Hidden (Skjult) (2009)
Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Starring Kristoffer Joner, Cecile A. Mosli, Anders Danielsen Lie, Bjarte Hjelmeland, Karin Park
Directed by Pal Oie
From the opening scene of a boy climbing out of a shallow grave and causing a fiery car crash in the woods, Hidden begins with a great deal of promise. In the end, however, it kind of falls flat.
The story revolves around Kai, who returns home after nineteen years to settle up the affairs of his recently deceased mother, a cruel woman who kept him isolated in a creepy old house in the woods. He goes to his mother's house armed with two cans of gasoline, fully intent on burning the damned thing to the ground, but then strange things begin happening. Images of his past haunt him, and people around the house begin to wind up dead.
The actors turn in fine performances for the most part, but there are a great many places where the "brooding" tone is overplayed. However, Kristoffer Joner and Cecile Mosli both play their respective roles, he of an angst-ridden abuse sufferer, she of a town cop, to the hilt. However, it is their performances that are partly responsible for giving the ending away to the audience. Other actors, including Karin Park, chew the scenery and make damned sure you know they're emoting, dammit!
There are few kills in this movie, and only one with any real gore factor, but they work well in the context as the real triumph of Hidden is in the atmosphere. Say what you will about the plot, the acting, or even the ending, but the cinematography and music combine to create a truly creepy vibe. From the dark shadows, flickering lights, and odd camera angles, the person controlling the camera earned his paycheck.
It was unable to totally save the film, however. The pacing is slow, and one can't help but wonder when the movie will end. Between townspeople acting like paranoid jerks to Kai acting like a paranoid jerk, we're left yelling "get on with it" in several places during the course of the film. Plus, the ending (which I won't spoil here) plays off the whole "you thought it was a twist, but it wasn't, but it really was" kind of mentality, which leaves the audience feeling cheated and wondering what would happen if the writer picked one story and stuck with it.
For a movie that began with such a thrilling sequence and with such a beautiful look, Hidden was something of a letdown.
3 out of 5
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