J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Michael Biehn Goes Grindhouse: The Victim

People say they love the environment, but do you know who actually lives out in the wilderness?  Freaks, that’s who.  Nonetheless, a woman running for her life in the middle of nowhere can hardly be choosey about where she finds refuge.  Proudly self-identifying as a retro grindhouse movie, Michael Biehn’s The Victim (trailer here) opens this Friday in New York.

In Victim’s world, women like Annie and her friend Mary can only be one thing: strippers.  They are not bad people.  They just enjoy the fast life.  Unfortunately, when they start “partying” with two crooked cops, Mary is killed in a Very Bad Things style mishap.  Of course, Cooger the narc and the super-connected Henderson now have to shut up Annie, permanently. 

Tearing through the woods, she ends up at the cabin belonging to Kyle, a smart, but seriously twitchy middle-aged anti-social loner.  As you might guess, this dude seems to be hiding something.  Yet, against his better judgment, he becomes Annie’s protector.  At least she is nice enough to throw herself at him during quiet moments.

The truth is The Victim’s big twist is so deliberately obvious, it almost forgets to reveal it.  Perhaps even more surprisingly, the film is not nearly as violent as one might expect.  Kids still have no business watching it though.  Not a slasher film nor torture porn, The Victim is basically a coke and moonshine fueled cat-and-mouse thriller with a rather sinister shoe constantly poised to drop.  Yet, it sort of works on its own sleazy terms.

Kyle the misanthrope is basically the kind of role writer-director Biehn now specializes in and indeed he does his thing with plenty of grizzled attitude.  He certainly looks like a cat to avoid, whereas Jennifer Blanc and Danielle Harris certainly look like strippers, for what that’s worth.  However, their frequent flashback scenes ring with the thudding sound of unintentional comedy.  Yet, that is nothing compared to some of the cheesy over-produced pop songs inappropriately strewn throughout the soundtrack.

The Victim openly invites bad karma by liberally quoting from Clint Eastwood’s The Unforgiven—not a comparison they should invite.  To be fair though, there are a few cleverly written bits of dialogue.  Basically, it is for everyone who wants to see Michael Biehn and two other scumbags go at like old school hill people.  Entertaining in a way, but impossible to recommend to anyone accept hardcore fans of hermitsploitation, The Victim opens this Friday (8/24) in New York at the Quad Cinema.

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