Thursday, February 28, 2013

Movie Appraisal: Hidden (Skjult) (2009)

Well, here's a movie that had a lot of promise, but ultimately gave up very little. Movies like this suck to review mostly because they have the POTENTIAL to be very fun rides, but end up being less than they should be. And it's not like they're terrible either. They're just okay. Mediocre. In some crazy middle ground between amazing and awful. Sometimes it's a bad script, sometimes it's a bad plot, a bad actor, a poorly thought-out character, a director who has no idea what they're doing, and sometimes it's simply how things work out. Hidden (or Skjult for Norwegian readers) is exactly a movie that should be more. It has so much going for it: a very well-done premise, good actors, a compelling story, and a plot heavily hovering in the realm of psychological horror. It's a movie I should LOVE, but instead I find it incredibly mediocre. Maybe it's simply that I've seen this all before and have become cynical. The movie feels lazy. And that's the problem.

Hidden begins with a car accident. A boy's parents are killed in the cold open. The boy survives (maybe), but the reason for the deaths of his parents is another boy running across the road and causing a semi truck to crash into the parents' car. You get the feeling that the first boy (who seems to be Peter) is going to be our lead character, but that turns out to not be the case (I think). The protagonist of our story is KK (Kai Koss), the boy who had run across the road and caused the accident. Apparently Peter disappeared after the accident and was called dead after shoes were found near the scene and underneath a waterfall long after.

The problem is that KK looks EXACTLY like what Peter would look like when he grew up. The boy has long blond locks. KK has the same. While the young KK has a shaved head. The older Peter (if he is Peter at all) has a shaved head as well. It's weird. I feel like it was probably done on purpose, but I can't say for sure it was. It's a movie that explains very little, which I like a lot, but the things it does explain turn out to have really idiotic explanations (I think). And that's the problem. The movie did do a lot very good, but other parts were baffling. I personally think that the original KK was killed by the abusive and disturbed mother after he escaped. Eventually Peter, who later became KK, in this case the second KK, after the mother caught him, came back to the town after his "mother" died. I mean, that's what I think, but I can't say anything for sure. The movie doesn't hit you over the head with it, so it's really up to what you want to think.

You can see my confusion here. I'm sorry. Parts of this movie made little sense. There is a dark-haired woman who I'm pretty sure isn't real. I don't know if she's a random singer or something? I'm told she speaks in Swedish, but I have no idea what that means. Maybe she was the original mother of Peter? Or just an actress? Or maybe she was just an imaginary friend he made up for company in the darkened hole he lived in for years. Again, I don't know.

The funny thing is, while I wasn't happy with the ending of the movie when I first saw it, it's something I'm liking more and more as time goes by. I actually like the movie more now (a few days later) than when I had originally watched it. Maybe I'm the crazy one. I still don't like how KK and Peter are somehow the same person and the murderer, but I'll probably get over it someday. (Read: I will never get over it. It's really dumb. I disliked it, and it should have been better.)

I found parts of the movie interesting. Why was KK looked at with such scorn by basically everybody? Only Sara seemed to like him and give him any benefit of the doubt. And she seemed to like him a lot. All of the men in town hated his guts. Why? Did I miss something? Was there some kind of history there? I have no idea. It was weird. I have no reference for anything and have no idea how to interpret it.

I mean, KK is the killer. It's obvious. Maybe that's why nobody likes him.

Sorry, did I say that too abruptly? It was abrupt in the movie too. KK is said to be the killer. Some kind of weird fugue state probably. Maybe he dissociates? Maybe he knows he's doing it? I have no idea. It's probably brought on by his old house. But man, it makes no sense. Maybe it's not supposed to make any sense. I would've preferred if he weren't the killer... but maybe it makes the movie better if he's both Peter and the killer. I don't know. I just don't know. I don't so, but maybe I'm not who this movie was made for.

The best part of the movie are the psychological scenes though. They're not scary, but their simple weirdness is enough to enjoy by themselves. The phone calls, the odd scenes of KK just by himself and thinking or whatever, and the weird interactions between characters- these are all reasons to see the movie. Just expect to find yourself baffled if you do watch it. I mean, I put a halfhearted recommendation out there. If you REALLY live for psychological horror/thriller, then watch this. Otherwise... it's not required watching, but it's not bad either. I enjoyed most of it. Just remember, it's not scary. There's very little gore. In general, I would think of this flick as much more of a suspense or thriller with psychological elements than anything else. And those always seem a little "eh," I guess.

Pål Øie directs, and does a pretty decent job. I think the long periods without dialogue are some of the best pieces of the film. They work incredibly well. They add to the confusion, but those long moments of suspense and confusion could be small beautiful movies on their own. The dialogue and the writing are mostly not as good. And this being an indie horror film from the After Dark Horrorfest 2010, I was expecting good things. I usually enjoy them, although they usually have some issues. See my review of Autopsy for details. 

Honestly, I liked the film, didn't love it. Kristoffer Joner as KK, Karin Park as Miriaim, and Cecilie A. Mosli as Sara are the breakouts here. I tend to like these Eurpoean horror movies. They do a good job at hitting what I like. This one wasn't quite as great as some, but I was okay with it. I wish I could say more, but I don't really have anything else to say.

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