Who is the victim? Is it the young stripper who was murdered in the woods? Is her best friend, who escapes the killers only to find herself being hunted? Is it the mysterious hermit living in the isolated cabin? Or is it murderer and his accomplice? It's any and all of them, as danger and blame shifts from one character to another throughout The Victim.
The film's biggest star is Michael Biehn. Everyone's got their own favorite Biehn role, many choosing his high-profile turns in The Terminator, Aliens, or The Abyss (mine's his Johnny Ringo in Tombstone), but not many would choose some of his later appearences in low budget horror movies. The Victim is another direct-to-disc indie, but what sets it apart is it's directed the actor (who also wrote the script) and costars Halloween slasher icon, Danielle Harris. Though the two don't have any scenes together, each of their characters is central to our main protagonist, played by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn.
The story isn't really innovative; unreliable narrators abound, as a tale of murder and mayhem is unveiled, little by little. The setting is humdrum; yes, it's another cabin in the woods. The characters aren't inherently likable; strippers, corrupt cops, and the guy with the shady past. Yet, there is something about The Victim which makes the turns twisty; the location apropos; and the players compulsively watchable. I'm going to guess it's the script and the casting — within the first five minutes, there were three little surprises and a couple of really enjoyable performances.
The Victim isn't so much a classic-style horror movie — it's more a crime thriller — but fans of the genre will probably enjoy the sex, drugs, and death scenes. While the marketing party line says The Victim is grind-house, I beg to differ: it's "grind-house lite" because the script and acting are above par, there isn't any unintended humor, and certainly no grand guignol blood-soakings. It's nothing like some neo g.h. flicks (Bitch Slap and Hobo With A Shotgun spring to mind), but that's alright. Given the limitations, I have to say I enjoyed The Victim a lot more than I thought I would. (Also, the ending credits are quite entertaining.)
The DVD and blu-ray have some interviews with the actors and various and sundry folks who seem to have just happened to be on set that day (for instance, Biehn's visiting brother is interviewed and added to the hodge-podge).
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson