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.