Michael Biehn continues to surprise viewers thirty-five years into his career: after rising to fame in the likes of The Terminator and Aliens, Biehn still remains a relevant and much-loved face in the movie world – continuing to impress in cult hits Planet Terror and The Divide. Now the veteran star writes, directs and stars in his debut feature film, The Victim, alongside Jennifer Blanc and horror favourite, Danielle Harris.
The Victim, a horror-infused thriller, follows the unlikely pairing of a shady recluse, Kyle (Biehn), and a young woman (Blanc) who find themselves on a cat and mouse chase from two corrupt cops.
Biehn’s debut is a challenging one – it seems to have been labelled as a grindhouse film (one just needs to look at the DVD cover featuring Biehn holding an axe behind a blood-soaked V sign), however, this is not the case. The Victim is far more of a straight-forward thriller with the odd moment of sex or violence thrown in to generate some excitement. Whilst Biehn does deliver a completely competent debut, it proves to be little else than competent, despite some glimpses of potential.
The Victim will prove to be an entertaining way to spend eighty minutes for audiences with an open mind or Biehn fans – with the actor’s debut boasting solid performances and tense, unsettling direction. Biehn excels as a man thrust into a deadly chase between corrupt cops and a victimised young woman, Annie. The growing relationship between Kyle and Annie proves to be of some interest, despite the lack of build up it receives – the recluse and the victim sleep together within ten minutes of meeting which seems to come out of the blue. Although, credit is due to Jennifer Blanc, who manages to make a morally questionable character completely likeable. Danielle Harris also makes a welcome appearance in the film’s opening as Annie’s carefree, floozy friend who is accidentally killed by one of the corrupt officers (leading to Annie escaping and the ensuing chase).
The Victim is filled with moments that could have been far more impressive if carried out with slightly more precision. One such moments sees Annie running through the woods – we are shown the character running but not what is chasing her – with a couple of simple shots of the cops tailing Annie, Biehn could have made the scene far more gripping. This could all come down to Biehn’s lack of experience behind the camera or simply due to the shortage of time available on the shoot.
Another issue with The Victim is the film’s uneven tone. It lacks the fun, gritty charm that a B-Movie/grindhouse film should have but at the same time does not feel realistic enough to be a serious thriller. Had Biehn’s script had a little more fun or moments of grindhouse violence or exploitation then it would have been a far more memorable, vibrant film.
The Victim is a respectable debut for Michael Biehn, who does a solid job as director and star. It proves to be a reasonably enjoyable way to spend eighty minutes, although would have fared far better had it taken itself less seriously and embraced the fun of the grindhouse genre.
Stars: Michael Biehn, Danielle Harris , Jennifer Blanc
Director: Michael Biehn
Release: 24th September 2012
Certificate: 15 (UK)