A Look at the Horror Movie, 'Victim'

Torture Porn Might Be Hard to Bear, But Payoff Could Be Worth It

Victim movie poster
Victim is a violent horror film with a surprise ending. © IFC

It takes a lot to shock jaded movie viewers in this day and age, especially horror fans who've seen every body part known to man severed and/or pulverized with a blunt object. The protracted punishment doled out in "Victim" (2010), however, might make even hardened gorehounds wince -- or at least raise an eyebrow in appreciation of the brutal extent to which the film goes to make a point. Still, you have to wonder if the journey is worth the payoff.

The Plot

After striking out at a local bar, a hip young man on the make (Stephen Weigand) is kidnapped in the parking lot by a pair of shadowy figures. One is named Dr. Volk (Bob Bancroft), a surgeon who's gone off the deep end after a family tragedy. The other, referred to simply as George (Brendan Kelly), is Volk's burly, mute enforcer.

The unnamed man is knocked unconscious and awakens in a dingy cell, where Volk tells him, "You are no longer you." His fingerprints are burned off, and he's subjected to torture upon torture for days and weeks on end. But what is the mad doctor's endgame, and who exactly is the "victim" in the scenario?

The End Result

"Victim's" nondescript title is matched by a nondescript first half that plays like every other hyper-violent so-called torture porn film in recent memory, but as the plot develops, the anticipation builds toward a twisty (and twisted) revelation that breaks out of its predictably sordid mold.

The scenes of protracted abuse are grueling and frustratingly vague in rationale, serving merely as an hour-long ramp-up to the demented payoff -- recalling, to a less gruesome and draining degree, the infamous French film "Martyrs." The revealed endgame -- and the film as a whole -- is less powerful than "Martyrs," but there's still a level of awe-inspiring wickedness that can win "Victim" a cult following from hardcore horror fans.

That said, the storytelling is rough around the edges, threatening to lose viewers amid a seemingly senseless barrage of brutality. The movie is 80 percent journey and 20 percent revelation, and unfortunately, only the 20 percent is truly engrossing. The rest is still bearable, though, thanks to an air of mystery that is just intriguing enough to keep you watching. Stick around and you might be pleasantly surprised.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C+ (Competent but doesn't fully sell the extreme emotion entailed)
  • Direction: C (Missing a flair to match the over-the-top content)
  • Script: C+ (Better in concept than execution; the dark and inventive payoff barely justifies the tiresome build up)
  • Gore/Effects: B- (Brutal and realistic)
  • Overall: C+ (A twisted and uneven, but ultimately worthwhile, trip into darkness)
  • No MPAA Rating

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