Misrepresented as a horror film, this was a decent, but slow moving thriller that pays off with a unique third-act.
A small family seeks refuge in an underground shelter as a deadly outbreak changes the world as they know it making the surface inhospitable.
It’s Halloween season so, like every year, I am a sucker for a premise that promises some horror or thrills. Labeled as a horror/thriller I decided to give this film a shot. With the short synopsis and seeing Alexander Skarsgård and Andrea Riseborough leading the cast, it seemed interesting enough.
The film does start out a little slow as the story jumps right into the current day with the family living inside an underground shelter. Much of the first-act meanders around the family sort-of living out their evening, introducing the viewer to the parents and their young daughter who is having trouble dealing with the state of their current living situation. Without knowing much of why they were there, some of the subtle hints did not land with the full impact they could have and it made the first twenty-minutes drag much more than it needed to. With a short run-time this story could have greatly benefited from a much swifter start.
The performances were good all around and they were able to express a dynamic of their relationship early on in the film. But for the most part there is little known about these characters. Without much development in them you do not really connect, and are left more curious, once again, about why they are down there. Sometimes a film can pull off jumping into a scene with the characters only being set up in their conversations, but the writing here was rather drab and resulted in much of the first-act being a little too boring at times. Also, with the film being very dimly lit, there is not much to draw your eye around the characters as the scenes work to build the new life the family lives after this viral outbreak, in a very slow manor.
This story could have built some suspense much earlier on by focusing on the theme of the outbreak but instead, the script spends time building the aspect of the wife clearly being the dominant one in the relationship and without question being the one who takes charge of things. It really made a bulk of the film seem like a marital drama, something that could have been compelling if it was building to a crossroads in their relationship later as things picked up, and life and death decisions had to be made. The intentional focus on this aspect of the story would lead one to assume it would lead up to something, but the story-arc was pretty much left open and made it all feel like a time filler.
Luckily the second half of this already short film picks up a bit and finally cranks up some tension, pulling it out of the family-drama it spent the first half lingering on. There are some nice flashback scenes late in the second-act that were very interesting, and they did a great job of creating the final ‘why’ I had spent the entire film waiting for. It was a unique approach and it was attention-grabbing to see how this family left the life we all know, and started a new one of refuge underground, fighting for survival.
The final act was pretty good, however a good amount camerawork was not the best. The infernal shaky-cam reared its ugly head resulting in many of the suspenseful moments not delivering all they could because you couldn’t really get a good view of what the hell what going on. It was fortunate the writing included a highly clever and very well written twist that completely makes this film much better than it was leading up.
In the end “Hidden” for me was a creative film that was worth the one-time watch. Most of it will be forgettable in the end but with a plot-twist that can make you smile with approval at its execution make it worth the time. Skarsgård, Riseborough and Lind pretty much fill up the entire run-time but their performances were very good and they all nailed their roles making the most of the material with their talents. This one will not blow your socks off but if you are looking for a decent thriller that will not consume much time, I would recommend this one.
– Starring –
Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Emily Alyn Lind
– Directed By –
Matt & Ross Duffer
Time: 84 min
MPAA Rating: R (For some violence/terror)