Hide and Creep (2004)

Starring Barry Austin, Melissa Bush, Douglas Dillingham, Christopher Garrison

Directed by Chance Shirley & Chuck Harstell

Hide and Creep first came to our attention when one of the filmmakers (sorry, I can’t remember which one now…) e-mailed us at our old home and pointed out a column they were doing over on Kevin Smith’s Movie Poop Shoot site detailing the making of their little zombie movie. The column’s called “This Movie Ain’t Gonna Shoot Itself”, and from the get-go proved to be a great resource for anyone wanting to make an indie film, zombie-oriented or not (check out the first entry here).

So anyway, some Alabama-based film fans wanted to make a zombie movie. Cool. They wanted to somehow chronicle the making of it for their own amusement as well as creating a resource for other indie productions. Even cooler. But how relevant would it all be if the movie ending up sucking?

Luckily, it didn’t.

Hide and Creep takes place over the course of one day in a quiet southern town. The dead begin returning to life, which for most is not good news at all. Some, like video store clerk Chuck (co-director Chuck Harstell), see it as more of a minor inconvenience than a threat, however. He, along with police secretary Barbara (Bush), her ex-boyfriend Chris (Chris Harstell), and a few others make their way across town trying to stay alive and stay ahead of the zombies. At the same time we have other plotlines going on, like the owner of the local gun club, Keith (Kyle Holma) trying to rid the town of the threat with his survivalists buddies, and the local reverend (Garrison) dealing with the fact that he’s going to become a member of the undead soon, that all end up coming together at the end. Sort of.

Okay, I grant you, that doesn’t sound like the most interesting of plots on paper, but this movie is all about the execution. Don’t go into this for a minute expecting some chilling zombie experience, Hide and Creep is a comedy through and through and thankfully it’s a damn funny one. Though certainly not at the same level, I’d say it’s more comparable to a southern, indie version of Shaun of the Dead. The jokes aren’t as quick (I mean, it is the South…), but it’s bloody heart is in the same place; Hide and Creep is a zomcom (no rom for this one), and luckily it was made by those with a great love for horror and the zombie movie in general.

A lot of what works, and this is just as true for comedy as it is for horror, has to come from the performances. Without solid leads your movie is for shit, plain and simple. The filmmakers had a good eye for this, thankfully, because all the characters pull of their roles to a tee, and not a single one came across as excessively cheesy or boring. The only part of the film that could be labeled as such would be some of the dialogue sequences, like Chuck’s speech about the evils of Pepsi, which smell a bit too much like Kevin Smith for my tastes. Luckily there are only two of them, at most, so you’re not going to be rolling your eyes all that often.

My only real complaint was the way some of the action was staged, which came off as stiff and unrealistic often, and the lacking of overall carnage throughout. Don’t get me wrong, there’s the obligatory bloodshed and gut munching, but it’s just not as readily at hand as I like from my zombie movies. It’s a minor issue, considering the overall quality of the rest of Hide and Creep, especially for an indie film.

The creators have a good mind for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the horror/comedy blend, something that can’t be said for most of Hollywood. I’d love to see these guys get a decent budget to work with on their next one, and to maybe try something a little bit goreier. Hide and Creep is the kind of film that would go over great with a crowd, especially as a midnight movie or something along those lines, so here’s hoping someone out there picks it up that can get it to some theaters before it’s eventual DVD release.

Funny and intelligent, Hide and Creep is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which only ends up making it mean that much more to the viewer.

3 1/2 out of 5

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Johnny Butane

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