Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Jennifer Blanc-Biehn
Cast: Michael Biehn, Tia Carrere, Evie Thompson
We’re beginning to see an interesting shift in Michael Biehn’s approach to performing in front of the camera. While fans of stellar 80s cinema will likely always acknowledge Biehn as the toned heroic type, willing to put it all on the line for the man next to him, fans of modern cinema, particularly independent films, are witnessing an evolution in Biehn, who’s now taken on more than one single villainous part. In fact, in one of Biehn’s forthcoming pictures, The Girl, the man takes the term “bad guy” to entirely new levels.
An unashamed, total exploitation film, The Girl isn’t just another opportunity to embrace the ugly for Biehn, it’s a chance to evolve and continue to challenge himself. For a man who’s been smoothing out and completely refining his work for decades, it’s amazing to see him stare atypical roles in the camera’s eye and say, bring it – I can do this and I can make it shine! That’s exactly what Biehn has been doing the last few years, and it’s exactly what he does in The Girl, which proves to be one of the strongest Biehn vehicles I’ve seen in years (perhaps since Planet Terror).
In the film, Biehn is an awesomely psychopathic serial kidnapper/killer. Yet he’s also a family man with an overtly dorky side to him, which ensures that at times (not consistently, mind you), this particular character delivers some subtle but effective humor. Explaining the title is really rather simple, as the latest young lady this lunatic has kidnapped (he keeps girls captive in his private shed, just yards from his isolated home) isn’t your run of the mill victim. The Girl’s got a secret tucked up her sleeve, and if she can get our antagonist’s son involved, recruit him as an ally, shall we say, she just might survive this harrowing ordeal. The big question hits us twofold: Can she influence the boy to help her, and will that still manage to be enough to escape her confines? The inevitable crossroad marks the second that things get real interesting. There’re some obvious moments of filler and they don’t exactly arrive on the heels of a smooth transition, but all in all, this one comes together wonderfully.
Biehn really shines in a bat shit crazy role. I’m not certain Biehn has ever performed in such chameleon like fashion. It’s a power switch for him, as he bounces back and forth between nut-job and firm but lovable father; that switch is hit on numerous occasions and it’s done so seamlessly by Biehn. Tia Carrere (where’s she been?) shows up to sell the aloof mother role perfectly, but ultimately it comes down to Biehn and Evie Thompson, who plays the titular character, vying for true show stealer nomination. No matter how you slice it however, this is a well-assembled cast that take the material seriously and in turn offer up something quite memorable.
Be prepared for a surprising finale that channels everything from Carrie to The Butterfly Effect. Saying that, you should know that while the flick borrows ideas from more than a single picture, it never ventures into the territories inhabited by creative thieves. This movie is Jennifer Blanc-Biehn’s alone. And she does a great job of directing just her second picture. Jennifer is clearly on her way to developing a very well-rounded skillset that should ensure her future in the business is quite bright.
The Girl isn’t going to work for those who need wild special effects and non-stop action to hold their attention. It is going to work quite well for those who find plausible tragedies terrifying and love to witness passion seep through the pores of performers. Like another recent Blanc-Biehn production, Hidden in the Woods, The Girl really embraces the grindhouse style of cinema so many of us love, and it must be said, in 2016, no one is releasing grindhouse cinema like Blanc-Biehn.