This entry is part 16 of 30 in the series Raindance 2011

Released: 2011
Director: David Bryant

Starring: John Bocelli, Sarah Coyle, Andy Cresswell, Nina Millns


A tense drama examining guilt and victimhood

Imagine that all the people who believe everything they read in the Daily Mail got together and decided to sort out the injustices they see all around them.  The country would descend into chaos and people would face punishment dished out by the mob rather than the courts.

Victims is a low-budget, found-footage British drama which unfolds in real-time.  It begins with a bridegroom being snatched off the street an hour before his wedding is due to begin.  In the back of a van taking him to an unknown destination, his captors accuse him of having raped and murdered a 4 year old girl 20 years previously when he was just 11.  Angered by his early release and the opportunity to rebuild his life, the abductors see it as their duty to mete out the justice that the legal system has not.  The Groom strenuously denies that he is a killer and slowly the full, horrific truth is revealed.

If you’ve read my review of Hollow, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the found footage genre.  I know that it’s cheap and edgy but most of the time it looks cheap and nasty.  Victims is undeniably a brilliant exception to this rule.  Whereas the use of a camcorder normally seems to be shoehorned into the action to fit the plot, here it is an integral part of the storytelling process.  Everything has to be recorded as it is intended for public consumption.  One of the great benefits of this is that in one important sequence the camera is attached to a tripod so there is no annoying jiggling around.  Naturally there are moments when the camera moves or it takes a couple of seconds for the focus to sharpen.  This adds to the overall excitement and effectiveness of the film.

The script is tight, controlled and thought-provoking.  It builds the tension very well and until the characters are ready to reveal the facts we are left to guess which story is the truth.  The dialogue challenges us to consider our own opinions on the law and what justice actually means.  The Groom challenges his kidnappers on the consequences of a society where individuals take the law into their own hands.  The group leader retorts that a society where people refuse to help others in trouble has already been destroyed.  Both are equally compelling and the film leaves us to consider with which point of view we agree.

The acting was, on the whole, very good.  Nina Millns as the Bride is impressive as she hears the accusations leveled against her husband to be.  There’s a cracking use of a very naughty word from the Bride which is totally in place given the situation.  Sarah Coyle and Andy Cresswell deserve credit for pulling off good performances despite being balaclava-clad for the duration of the film.

There are a few over-the-top moments, the punches thrown clearly don’t connect and when CPR was given the first aider in me winced at the poor technique.  These are just little points.

For a low-budget film, made on a tight schedule and in a limited setting this is outstanding.  However, make sure that you see Victims with someone else – you’ll want to spend a good time after the film debating your thoughts on who was guilty and who was a victim.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< The BoxInterview – Leaving Baghdad Director, Koutaiba Al-Janabi >>
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