Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Victim (2011)

Unless you're like me and you have undertaken a responsibility to watch any and every horror movie that hits the shelves, you can probably skip The Victim and be perfectly fine with your life.  It's not that it's a bad film; it just doesn't deliver anything worth watching.  There were several times when I contemplated turning it off and doing something more useful, but I had awaited the BluRay from Netflix long enough to warrant sticking it out and hoping for the best.  And though there was never really any payoff, there were plenty of little moments of charm (even if they weren't intended the way I took them) that keep me going to the end.

The plot is fairly simple, as is the cast and setting.  Two cops are engaging in illicit activities with a couple of strippers out in the middle of wooded nowhere.  When things take a wrong turn, one of the strippers, wearing heeled boots, is able to outrun two in-shape cops and make it to a little cabin where a man seeking solitude, and (as we find out) reformation from his old ways, is there to take her in and help with the situation.  So, yeah, pretty simple setup.  And, again, sort of like a simple Troma plot (e.g. Mother's Day, where a group of criminals barge in on a group of friends), the setup and action takes place quickly, leaving the remainder of the film to be creative with sparse materials.  So, we get the usual format of twisted cop versus civilian, and the tables turn a couple times, etc.  Unfortunately the space for creativity is filled in with plenty of runtime padding, especially the opening credits.  Oh, and by the way, this is apparently based on a true story.

As I said, the plot is as simple as the cast and the setting.  It's a very small cast--and, in fact, the end credits spend a lot of time saluting the crew more so than the cast, which was pretty cool.  Each crew member, down to the gaffer, is presented in full-screen with his or her name and role, one at a time.  I think this was a nice token of appreciation on part of, I'm assuming, writer-director-actor Michael Biehn.  And I can't fault the film for its setting either, as some of my favorite movies take place entirely in the woods and at a cabin (Evil Dead!).  But, again with the padding: the sequences of driving around!  Yes, we get that they are in the middle of nowhere!  And why were the SUV's headlights off most of the time, in the woods, in the middle of the night?

The acting was mostly atrocious, especially between Michael Biehn and real-life spouse Jennifer Blanc.  For people who are actually married, their on-screen interaction was rigid, forced, unnatural.  Perhaps being married was the problem?  But I've seen better interaction (Courtney Cox and David Arquette, even after all their personal, media-ridiculed shenanigans) between married couples on-screen.  In any case, the dialogue between these two was painful to watch.  Which eventually led me back to thinking that this was deliberate.  That the film really was supposed to be a cheesy throwback.  What would've helped is if there had been more of the fan-favorite Danielle Harris, who only really appears in flashbacks.  Overall, it seemed to me that Ryan Honey was having the most fun with his role.

Despite its flaws--the padding, the poor dialogue, the overly simple and reused setup--The Victim does deliver some amusing elements.  Michael Biehn's macho-coolguy demeanor was entertaining.  There's a moment when he starts yelling at Jennifer Blanc to "stop yelling at me" when she wasn't really yelling at all.  It was kind of amusing in that I felt I got a glimpse at what arguments and other forms of domestic bickering are like for the two.  In the end, though, the most irritating part of my experience was my constant wondering about what this film was trying to be.  At times it felt like an homage to the old Troma films; at other times it felt like it was blatantly cheesy; but still, at other times I could tell it was taking itself way too seriously.  There was some gratuitous use of Blanc and Harris that will probably, unfortunately, be the only reason most people watch the movie (sort of like The Brown Bunny).

Rating: 2/5

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