Violent thriller The Victim is notable as it marks actor Michael Biehn’s first foray into script writing and direction, both with varying degrees of success.
Also starring in the movie, alongside his wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn the couple play Kyle and Annie, a couple of strangers thrown together by circumstance and driven to do what’s right when Annie’s friend is killed by a corrupt cop.
Desperate for help against the evil machinations of the murderous man of the law, Annie seeks refuge in Kyle’s cabin in the woods where she tries to convince him of her perilous predicament before the police pound down the door.
Equal parts psychological thriller and brutal exploitation pic, Biehn works wonders with his actors getting great performances out of his spouse along with bad girl Danielle Harris and even badder cop Ryan Honey. And he does so whilst managing to deliver a top turn himself as a likable if slightly loony loner.
The direction is also well done with some interesting shots and a good use of the limited locations. Pacing is perhaps an issue with Annie’s flashbacks seemingly serving no purpose whatsoever apart from, along with some other slow scenes, delaying the ongoing action. But the movie does build nicely to its climax if taking the long way round to get there.
Where The Victim falters however is in the storyline, which is neither imaginatively mysterious nor starkly simple enough. At first it appears that Annie’s story is not all that it seems and that more intrigue is involved with who is telling the truth – her or the cops.
Sadly this duplicity dissipates far too quickly and the twists that the film does take are all too obvious. This gives the film a predictability that could have been interestingly and easily avoided if only the characters true intentions and action where hidden from plain view. It would have made for a much more inventive and thrilling thriller.
Also Biehn’s script has a couple of strange and obtuse moments, such as the over long sex scene between Kyle and Annie. And there’s some dodgy dialogue, such as the scene where Annie goes on at Kyle about ‘how young he looks’. Both elements stand out from the story as either laughable or insanely vain.
The Victim does deliver plenty of sex and violence however, with nudity and torture upping the horror ante and keeping the exploitation crowd happy. This plus the performances elevate the film above other movies from the grimy genre.
With a few more twists and turns in its tail it could have been a brilliant little horror, but overall The Victim isn’t bad. As a first film behind the camera and the pen Biehn does a solid job.