Dread / The Final / The Graves / Hidden / Kill Theory
/ The Reeds / Zombies
of Mass Destruction

STUDIO: LionsGate
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 96 Minutes

- Original trailer.

The Pitch
You can’t go home again– well, you can, but people are gonna die if you do.  

The Humans
Cast: Kristoffer Joner, Cecilie A. Mosli, Director: Pål Øie

The Nutshell
The death of his mother brings Kai Koss back home after 19 years, and his past comes back to haunt him (literally and figuratively).

The Lowdown
Hidden isn’t your average horror movie. It’s Norwegian, for starters–so that’s different. It’s slowly paced and spends a great deal of its time building tension, rather than having masked killers jump out and slash teenage flesh. It’s not interested in cheap scares as much as it wants to get in your head. Unfortunately, it’s not very successful at doing so. While there are certainly effective moments and touches, Hidden‘s story is ultimately too pedestrian to make the film stand out in any way.

Norwegians have a disturbing level of affection for the dead.

The film opens with a young Kai Koss emerging out of the ground in the middle of the forest. Close-by, a boy–Peter–pees by the side of the road as his parents wait in the car. Kai runs out of the forest and crosses the street in front of an 18-wheeler, sending the truck barreling into Peter’s parents’ car, killing them. This is the moment the entire film revolves around. Once Kai–or KK as they call him–returns home to see his mother’s body, strange occurences start happening and a pair of teens disappear after exploring KK’s mothers’ abandoned house. KK believes it’s Peter, even though the authorities believe Peter ran off a cliff the night his parents died, and attempts to prove he’s still alive. The plot is not the most original thing ever written, but it’s not the least either. The main problem is that the film parses out the details so slowly and in such a cryptic fashion that I was expecting the twists to be much more substantial. But, all I got was basically confirmation of what I had already inferred.

How come no one has a doll collection like this in a Merchant-Ivory film?

The film also has a problem deciding what kind of horror movie it wants to be. For awhile, it appears to be a supernatural horror film. Toward the beginning, KK returns to his mother’s abandoned home, and some creepy, seemingly paranormal, things happen–he sees his dead mother in the bathroom mirror, a hand appears from nowhere and grabs him, etc.–but soon after, the film’s threat seems to be your average red-hoodie wearing serial killer. The rest of the film switches between these two genres without very much grace. The supernatural stuff is so subtle and sedate it’s almost confusing, and the film’s goriest kill feels out of place in the world the film sets up. It also doesn’t help that the film takes itself entirely too seriously and is almost completely without a moment of levity. All the actors are quite good, but they’re not given much to do besides stare ominously at things and engage in odd conversations.

“Cut your hair, you goddamn hippie!!!”

A good deal of the tension toward the end of the film comes from the police–including his friend, Sara–believing that it’s KK himself who murdered the teens. The film goes back-and-forth between whether or not this is possible, and when you think the question’s been definitively answered, the last frame of the film makes you think otherwise. There’s plenty of stuff in the film that is open to interpretation, and the film could be viewed a number of different ways, but that feels mostly due to the confusing way the story is presented and not an organic product of the story being told. The film doesn’t draw you in enough to debate what happened for too long afterwards. I understand wanting to be subtle, but the film is cryptic at the expense of realism and character. Odd things keep happening to KK throughout the film, and he never questions them or shares anything with anyone else. Even when he’s trying to convince people Peter is alive, he doesn’t point out a lot of the strange things that have happened throughout the movie. It just makes the film feel totally false.

The emo killer cuts you and himself.

The one area of the film that is quite successful is its visuals. It often looks quite beautiful and manages to produce a few shots that are downright stunning. I also appreciate the films ability to build tension in a few select moments. KK’s first visit to his mother’s home is quite unsettling and eery, and the opening scene of the car crash is handled quite well. So little of the horror movies we see these days try to be distinctive in any department, so credit has to be paid to the director for at least that, but the script makes it a wasted effort. I have no doubt that there are probably people who will enjoy this movie. They’ll come up with an interpretation of it that they like and that makes sense to them. But, for most, I’m guessing Hidden won’t be worth that much of an effort.

The Package
A trailer. That’s it.

5.5 out of 10