Victim, The (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 82:42 (Case: 76)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Biehn
Studio
Distributor

Transmission Films
Starring Michael Biehn
Jennifer Blanc
Ryan Honey
Danielle Harris
Denny Kirkwood
Tanya Newbould
Dana Daurey
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Jeehun Hwang
Jeehun Hwang


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, In dramatic context.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The sensual and intense Michael Biehn first came to my attention as the psychopathic young man who terrorized Lauren Bacall and Maureen Stapleton in The Fan way back in 1981. He previously had a bit part in Grease (1978), and had worked on TV from 1977 on, but it was The Fan that really gave the young actor the chance to impress, and impress he did. James Cameron featured Biehn in The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989). For a variety of reasons Biehn has never gained star status when others far less deserving have. However, he has worked on screen consistently and his career has taken him behind the camera with the appearance of his first solo-directorial effort The Victim.

     Immediately after the opening credits the screen bears the legend : NOT BASED ON TRUE EVENTS; a nice touch. Biehn's screenplay, based on a first feature story penned by Reed Lackey, begins with a couple beside a wooded road participating in decidedly unattractive sex. In fact there are two couples out in the woods of the San Fernando Valley east of Los Angeles. It is late at night, and the four have parked their car in order to satisfy their basic urges with alcohol, drugs and, maybe, sex. The young women are two strippers, Annie (Jennifer Blanc / The Divide) and Mary (Danielle Harris / Hatchett II and III), while the men are two local Sheriff's Deputies, Harrison (Ryan Honey / Saving Lincoln) and Cooger (Denny Kirkwood / Never Been Kissed). For the couple beside the road, sex goes very wrong, and Mary winds up dead, with a terrified Annie running off into the trees. She stumbles upon the cabin of reclusive Kyle (Michael Biehn), who reluctantly takes her in. The two cops track her to the cabin and Kyle conceals Annie to open the door. The cops tell Kyle that they are pursuing a girl who may be able to help them in investigating the serial slaying of young women in the area. Kyle tells them he has seen no-one, and the disbelieving cops withdraw into the night. What proceeds from there is a truly thrilling series of conflicts between these four characters, interspersed with flashbacks to the apartment-sharing lives of Annie and Mary. Biehn's movie - rightly called his as he wrote, directed and starred, - is a tight, efficient thriller. It is basic and gritty, often with the look and feel of grindhouse. There is sex, at times ugly and unattractive, and gruelling violence - though not of the slasher variety. It is a very low budget movie, financed by the star and his friends, and with exteriors no doubt filmed not far from the Biehn backyard. The script does in some areas hold the film back, with no delving into the characters and their motivations. The actors work well with the dialogue they have, but there are scenes when yelling replaces any true drama or tension between characters. Michael Biehn is very good indeed, gnarled but still handsome, as the loner who may have something dark lurking below the surface. Jennifer Blanc, Mrs Biehn and a producer of the movie, makes a convincingly distraught stripper in distress, while Honey and Kirkwood are convincing as the pursuing officers of the law. Danielle Harris is decorative, but has relatively little to do.

     Biehn as director does extremely well. This is a very effective thriller, in the old sense of the word. Today all a movie needs in order to be tagged a "thriller" is a car chase or two. This little flick has no car chases, and no CGI violence, but it grabs its audience and holds you tight in the middle of a realistically scary and threatening experience. There is an overall tension throughout the film, right from the opening grotty sex act. We are made to feel the experience and the danger that confront Kyle and Annie - with the added threat that maybe Kyle isn't what Annie thinks he is. True there are some instances of trite dialogue, plus moments of acting that tries too hard to compensate for what is not provided by the script. But there are many offsetting plusses, not only in the drama but also in the other components of the film. There is some interesting camera work from cinematographer Eric Curtis, here on his second feature, with angles and general composition that make for a visually strong experience. Also contributing is the original score from Jeehun Hwang, whose previous credits are mainly for video games. Rhythmic and with an insistent bass, the music really adds to the general threatening atmosphere.

     The Victim is propelled by the director at a breakneck pace for all of its eighty-two minutes, which include fun final credits that have the charm and innocence of a home movie. Maybe Michael Biehn utilised friends and family to make this movie - evidently for a ridiculous $800,000 - but his work is charged with a naked vitality and succeeds time and time again where other much more expensive efforts fail dismally. Biehn always was, and is, an actor fascinating to watch. Now maybe he's a director to watch as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Victim is given a totally appropriate and satisfying Blu-ray 1080p transfer.

     The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, the original aspect ratio.

     The general quality of the image is very pleasing, bearing in mind the intention to make a film with gritty grindhouse realism. Modest grain is evident, and perhaps some of that texture also made it easier to come in on budget, but that is not the feel you get from the film. To me the image was nigh perfect for the director's intention. Detail is very high, in searing close ups, dingy cabin interiors and the few daytime exteriors. The backroads and the woods are alive with minute detail. Also extremely impressive is the detail in dimly lit interiors, as in Kyle's cabin. No doubt again for economy, day for night exteriors are a bit on the blue side, but this is soon forgotten with the drama on the screen. Colours are generally appropriately subdued, although there are instances of startlingly bold primaries, as in the flashbacks to the apartment of the two girls. Skin tones are generally excellent.

     The transfer was totally clean and I was not aware of any artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This low-low-budget film has a soundtrack that impresses mightily, really immersing us in the tension-filled conflict on the screen. There is one audio stream, English DTS-HD Master Audio.

     Very early in the film I was very impressed to hear the sound that emanating from an off-screen laptop was coming from the left-hand front speaker. This was a promise that the film totally fulfilled. Sometimes sheer dedication can give more satisfying results from an audience's standpoint - or sitpoint - than an unlimited budget. Although most of the dialogue is front and centred there is plenty of activity across the fronts, and the rears are alive with the sounds of the forest - particularly in the early chase scenes - and other ambience at every opportunity. There is no compromise in the quality of the dialogue recording - every syllable is crystal clear. There were a couple of scenes when I was suspicious of looping, but these were fleeting instances. As mentioned in the body of the review, the music from Jeehun Hewang adds considerably to the texture of the film, and it is given superb reproduction - particularly in the bass area, with the subwoofer adding great impact to particularly dramatic scoring.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There is absolutely nothing extra other than the menu, which is disappointing as the Region 1 release has a commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Menu

     The menu reproduces the still from the slick with audio of a song from the film. There is no animation.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The local release misses out on :

Summary

     Here is a thriller - and I do not use that word lightly - that really thrills. It is charged with terrifying danger, with the possibilities of death and torture. A small group of characters, none of whom is really admirable, assail one another with sex, violence and brutality. Michael Biehn wrote, directed and stars - along with Mrs Biehn - in a remarkable little movie that makes you overlook its flaws as it lures, pushes and shoves you through eighty minutes of viciously vital filmmaking. Bravo Mr Biehn!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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