Film4 Frightfest the 13th – Day 2

Our rundown of Day 2 of Frightfest the 13th!

Shaun Munro

Contributor

After the minimalism of last night’s opening to Frightfest – offering merely three films, as is the usual course for the fest – things kicked into full swing today, as the Main screen began showing films from a sunny 10am, while the secondary screens, Discovery – generally reserved for low-budget horror gems – and the new Re-Discovery screen – featuring classic Frightfest favourites – opened up.

 

#3 – The Victim

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

After serving as an intermittent character actor throughout the decades in the likes of The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss and Planet Terror, Michael Biehn makes his directorial debut with the grimy homage to 70s exploitation The Victim. Biehn stars as Kyle, a man living out in a remote cabin whose sanctity is disturbed once a woman, Annie (played by Biehn’s wife, Jennifer Blanc), comes a-knocking having just witnessed the rape and murder of her friend Mary (Danielle Harris), bringing with her the perpetrators – two corrupt cops – hot on her tail.

Though Biehn’s film is surprisingly striking from a visual perspective, it also unfolds at an unfortunately painstaking pace for a pic running in at a bare 83 minutes. What’s worse is the flat atmosphere, which can’t render any terror or much intrigue out of the scenario, entirely unaided by a collection of indifferent performances, most disappointingly of all from Biehn himself, perhaps spread thin as writer-director-star. It’s always nice to see scream queen Danielle Harris, meanwhile, though being offed early on, she doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time throughout.

Perhaps most dispiriting is the oddly self-serving nature of the narrative; Biehn’s Kyle embarks on a romantic tryst with Annie, with her declaring how well he appears to have aged, before the two engage in a hilariously superfluous sex scene. Moments like these give the film the feel of a vanity project on the part of Biehn, who simply wants to show off his admittedly good physique for a man his age, and of course, how attractive his much younger wife is. Even a good twist can’t fix problems like that.

A disappointingly self-indulgent offering from veteran character actor-turned-writer-director Michael Biehn.