Someone needs to define “grindhouse” for Mr. Biehn, I’m afraid. The hardworking man who helped define the ’80s in early James Cameron films (Aliens, The Terminator) is a good actor and, as it turns out, a competent director. His script, however, is awful.
For one thing, it’s hardly enough on which to hang a feature length. Biehn is Kyle, a guy who lives by himself in a cabin in the woods. One night, a party girl/dancer named Annie (his real-life wife, Jennifer Blanc, The Divide) comes running and screaming at his door, begging for help because two guys are pursuing her after killing her friend, Mary (Danielle Harris, Hatchet II, Stake Land, ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2), during a doped-up sex session.
Kyle agrees to help; the guys track Annie there; the balance of power between the warring halves swings this way and that until the end, which comes with a twist you may guess from the very start. To pad the running time to 82 minutes, Annie keeps flashing back to Mary parading around in a variety of revealing clothing before finally deciding what to wear for their fatal double date.
As leering as that may seem, Harris gets off easy compared to the appropriately named Blanc, whose breasts get wrangled by two men’s paws — one of those guys being Biehn, in remarkable shape, directing himself in an explicit sex scene that skirts into Skinemax territory.
The Victim unspools woefully slow, with the biggest burst of speed and motion coming in Blanc’s hip thrusts in the aforementioned copulation montage. And grindhouse cinema was about more than showing blood and boobs — it was about a fast pace and a fun time. It was about delivering the goods from start to finish, encouraging audiences to hoot and holler with it, not at it. Biehn’s entry elicits not shouts, but snores.
It pains me to say it … so I’ll let someone else do it: On Twitter, an unimpressed viewer wrote, “A half hour in and I’m beginning to think I’m the victim.” I wonder if he made it all the way through. If not, he missed the oddest end credits sequence in perhaps forever, with happy fonts that belie the material and each crew member introduced onscreen. It’s the thought that counts. —Rod Lott