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Victim (2010) Review

Victim Movie Review by MoreHorror
VICTIM Review by Mike Pickle, MoreHorror.com

The poster art for Victim might fit the tone of the film and the synopsis may let you know, basically, what goes on so you may think you know what you're in for. Wrong. What you get with Victim is something inexorably different. Something more. Directors Matt Eskandari and Michael A. Pierce have achieved something rare even for the most seasoned of filmmakers. They manage to unflinchingly display stark brutality on screen while the most disturbing aspects creep up behind you and worm their way into your consciousness. These aspects are the ones that stick with you long after the end credits have rolled.

The film opens in an instantly discomforting fashion with hand-held camera footage. The man holding the camera is talking to a beautiful woman and unexpectedly begins attacking her, beating her mercilessly and seemingly killing her. After the opening credits; focus is centered on a good looking young man hanging out in a bar. He starts to leave and notices that his tires have been slashed. He is attacked from behind, knocked unconscious and wakes up in a cell in what looks like a dungeon laboratory.

Soon he meets his captors, the creepy and enigmatic Dr. Volt and his huge, menacing, mute assistant George. The sadistic duos proceed to subject the poor man to what seems like senseless physical and psychological torture. As the nameless "victim" is being beaten, his fingerprints burned off and made to endure sadistic operations; his only comfort comes in the form of a young girl's diary left in his cell. The voice-over of the innocent, adolescent author and parental guidance being played through speakers in the cell add layers to the experience that take you beyond the "torture porn" corner that some people might paint this film into. This man is being transformed inside and out. Dr. Volt tells him "you are no longer you" and we soon begin to realize that this is not just torture. This cruelty has a purpose and is all part of Dr. Volt's scheme.

There are many questions raised through the course of this film. Many questions that, had they not been answered so profoundly satisfying, would have dampened the experience. There's a reason why the mute George is helping the demented doctor without hesitation. There's a reason why the victim is stripped of his dignity so quickly and easily before the real pain begins. There's a reason for every atrocity the victim and viewer are made to endure. There's even a reason for the side story of the female detective who is suspicious of the doctor. Yes, it takes us out of the madness, but let's face it; we need a break from scouring the depths of physical and mental torment. It also gives the viewer hope for the otherwise hopeless victim and serves as a brutal example of what the doctor is willing to do to complete his ambiguous master plan.

In an attempt to piece together the puzzle of exactly why this film has such a penetrating and abysmal effect; I have to mention the score. Much like the film itself, the music is both subdued and over the top. Pitch-perfect and maddening. It's a bold soundtrack and it works. Another important piece to the puzzle is the use of special effects which are used both sparingly and abundantly depending on the scene. Some scenes bring you closer and closer to the carnage before cutting away at the precise wincing point leaving the worst to your imagination. Armed with a false sense of security and thinking the worst will be played out in the mind; the viewer is taken past the point of wincing until the gore is staring them in the face and displayed just clear enough to feel real. One scene of a throat being slit is particularly realistic and one of the most convincing effects of its kind that I have seen.

Holding all these pieces together are strong performances by the three main stars. Stephen Weigand portrays the nameless victim and had a hefty role on his hands. His performance pulls you into his world of pain and confusion as well as a wide range of consuming emotions that come full circle in the shocking climax. Bob Bancroft portrays Dr. Volt with similar depth and is crucial to the potency of this film. He shows a pain of his own at times, but for the most part, is a figure of both menace and calm, cold indifference. There to provide an even stranger twist to the impact of the film is Brendan Kelly as the disconcertingly silent George. His lack of lines takes nothing away from his contribution to the film or the development of his character. His insistence on glaring at the victim while he is made to perform a particularly humiliating deed is one of the many subtly creepy moments that makes this movie so effective.

Victim is tied together by one revelation, but that revelation does not make the film. Matt Eskandari and Michael A. Pierce have crafted a horror thriller that's not just another horror thriller and not just another entry in the torture sub-genre. It's a multi-layered triumph of a film whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Something special happens when a film strikes this many chords so effectively. It resonates. Just like any work of art; it's not always clean and pleasant, but it stirs a lot of emotions. It's almost impossible to be so moved by a film with such unrelenting ruthlessness, but I was both moved and disturbed and not for the obvious reasons.

Distributed by IFC Films who brought us such films as Human Centipede, Dead Snow and Lars Von Trier's Antichrist; Victim had a limited theatrical and Video on Demand release, and will hopefully be released on DVD soon.

Victim is a horor film from 2010

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