APRIL 24, 2012
Like Tom Jane’s ill-fated Dark Country, Hidden is a 3D production that has been sent to disc in a 2D only version (its IMDb title is actually Hidden 3D), stripped of its main selling point without fanfare. But at least that one still had some Tom Jane nuttiness and a fun Ron Perlman cameo – Hidden doesn’t offer a damn thing beyond a few attractive female cast members (can’t vouch for the dudes – main dude seems handsome enough though) and a mercifully brief 81 minute runtime with credits.
In fact I actually spent a good chunk of the movie wondering why it was in 3D to begin with; not since My Soul To Take has there been a film less suited for the process, and that was a post-convert created by bean counters trying to cash in on a trend. To the best of my knowledge, Hidden was actually shot in stereoscopic 3D, despite the fact that nearly the entire movie consists of people wandering around corridors and being killed off-screen. There’s a few obvious “comin at ya!” type effects (usually with the film’s villain – a swarm of insects), but otherwise only the occasional hallway shot would seemingly benefit from having the illusion of depth.
Let’s get back to two things I just mentioned. The off-screen deaths run the gamut from spooky (as in “is someone in the group offing them?”) to obnoxious, to “is the DVD broken or did these jerks actually make an entire movie – in 3D no less – without showing us a goddamn thing?” I’ve seen daytime television edits that offered up more carnage, which is insulting for an R rated (actually “not rated”, but it would be R if they had tried) horror film that’s supposed to be delivering spectacle. Making things even more frustrating is that every kill plays out exactly the same – behind a closed door. At least if there was some variety to the proceedings (maybe someone falls/is pushed out a window and drops out of frame, or screams toward the camera as a large object careens toward them and crushes them), I could ALMOST forgive the lack of actually seeing anything. But no, it’s just an endless series of doors.
Then there are the insects, which kept reminding me of Michael Crichton’s "Prey", a decent junk book that has surprisingly not been turned into a movie (a Syfy original miniseries would be a good fit). They fly around in poorly rendered CGI swarms usually, though occasionally one will break free and allow the animators to really show off how lousy they are at compositing (but again, if this was 3D it wouldn’t be as big of an issue since they’re SUPPOSED to look separate from their background). The other villains are a group of kids who have faces that resemble any J-horror remake you can imagine (you know, big hollowed eyes, mouths twisted open, etc), which could have been creepy if director M.R. (yep) bothered to use them in any meaningful way. Instead, their appearances are just as repetitive as the kills; people will walk into a room, have a conversation that seems designed to put the viewer to sleep, and then they’ll walk away as the camera pans down to the floor or over to a corner as we see a limb of one of the kids come into view. Yeah, this sort of “oh shit, someone was watching them!” scare can work once or twice, but when it’s all they offer? Not so much. Imagine if every scare in Halloween was like when Michael appears next to camera after Laurie drops off the key (“I wish I had you all alone… just the two of us…”), and that’s what Hidden is like.
At least, until the end. Surely this has been a slow burn and things are going to get crazy now, right? Nope. The villain appears, delivers their villain speech, and then the hero takes her AND all of the zombie children out with one move, literally moments after she explains that she’s a host and they’re all connected so if she dies they’ll all die too. So he swipes at her and the kids just sort of fall over. That’s our climax. Even though it’s only been 72 minutes or so (because of course there’s an idiotic, sequel-plugging epilogue), I was angry that the movie had wasted so much of my time building toward what amounted to nothing. I could have watched 1.5 episodes of Fringe! Not only would the FX be better and the monster scarier, but I’d also get some choice Walter rambles about shakes or pie or something.
The biggest shame is that it’s actually a good location for a movie – a giant, state of the art but empty research facility. You still have the usual operating rooms and basements, but there’s some modern architecture and a big brightly lit main hall that would be a fun contrast for some real horror. If this was a widely released movie, it could actually be used as the basis for a good haunted house/maze at Universal Horror Nights (or the theme park equivalent of your choice), because the villains were just generic ghoul type things that can pop out anywhere, and most of the movie is just people wandering around hallways anyway – it might as well be a home video of someone walking through the “Hospital Of Horror” at Knott’s Scary Farm. Except with cheaper FX.
Oh well. Nice to see Exit Humanity’s Jordan Hayes again, as well as actor Devon Bostick, who managed to play two characters in the Saw franchise (though he’s just a random clinic patient in IV, not really a “character”). But Exit Humanity isn’t out yet, and I doubt anyone cares about Saw continuity these days, so I have no idea what YOU might be able to take away from this chore. But someone call me when it shows in 3D somewhere – curious if it makes any difference whatsoever.
What say you?