PLOT: Chris McMahon (John Bocelli); a mild-mannered banker, is kidnapped on his wedding day by a group of balaclava-wearing strangers. They accuse him of not being who he says he is, but rather, a former child-murder that’s been given a new identity after completing years of therapy. Is McMahon really as innocent as he claims, or is someone else actually the victim here?
REVIEW: David Bryant’s VICTIMS is yet another found-footage thriller, where the whole thing unfolds before a video-camera wielded by one of the kidnappers. However, what makes VICTIMS somewhat unique as far as these thrillers go is that the whole thing was shot in one unbroken take- all ninety-three minutes of it, with no ADR, no SFX and no musical score.
However the film turned out, the fact that director David Bryant was able to pull this off- on a ridiculously low 3000 euro budget to boot, is an impressive feat and not one that should be shrugged off.
As for the film itself, I’m a little mixed on my opinion. One the one hand, I really admire what Bryant was able to achieve with how the film was shot. I also have tremendous respect for the actors, all of whom are excellent and are able keep going without breaking character or flubbing lines despite being on-camera the whole time.
Especially noteworthy is the performance by John Bocelli, as not only is he on-screen for ninety percent of the film, but he also has to maintain the audience’s sympathy, with us spending much of the film wondering whether he’s as innocent as he says, or whether he’s a former young offender who committed pretty much the most despicable crime imaginable.
Thematically, VICTIMS reminded me of one of my favorite recent films- BOY A. That overlooked film starred Andrew Garfield as another young offender, newly released into society as a reformed adult, but unable to get on with his new life partly due to his own remorse, and otherwise due to the fact that no one will let him forget his crime. VICTIMS obviously isn’t as good a film as BOY A, but considering the limited resources as Bryant’s disposal, it comes a lot closer than you’d expect, mostly due to Bocelli’s tremendous performance.
However, I have some problems with VICTIMS. For one thing, at ninety-three minutes the film is too long. If you’re doing something as experimental as this, with a single unbroken-take, I think you’re better off making the film last about 75 minutes max. That said it’s not like Bryant can go back and trim the film, as that would result in a break in the continuous take. I also thought that the first half of the film, set in the back of a van, went on far too long and got a tad tedious. Thing pick up tremendously once the kidnappers get their victim to their warehouse headquarters, which cuts down on the claustrophobia somewhat.
Whatever its faults, I enjoyed VICTIMS, and I certainly respect Bryant’s accomplishment behind the camera. The storyline is solid and the performances are uniformly excellent. If VICTIMS hits VOD or something similar in the near future, you should definitely give it a look. It’s an impressive achievement, and more importantly, food for thought.