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'Hidden' Movie Review (2010 After Dark Horrorfest)

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By

'Hidden' movie poster.

'Hidden' movie poster.

© After Dark
The After Dark Horrorfest is a unique event that provides the horror film festival experience on a nationwide level, allowing genre fans the chance to see on the big screen eight films that wouldn't normally receive a theatrical release.

The Plot

In 1989, a young boy named Kai escapes the clutches of his abusive mother, running through the woods surrounding his house to a nearby road. However, in the process, he causes an accident that claims the life of an innocent couple and leaves their young son Peter, who witnesses it all, an orphan.

Nineteen years later, a now-adult Kai (Kristoffer Joner) returns to his childhood town upon the news of his mother's passing. Basically, he wants to make sure she's really dead. He's inherited the house, but having few happy memories there, he wants little to do with it. Still, curiosity and a need to heal lead him back to the spooky old building, where he experiences a series of unexplained sounds and events. A hooded figure appears in the shadows and begins to strike out against those around him.

As he begins to unravel the story of what supposedly happened to Peter after his parents died, Kai begins to suspect that the orphan boy is responsible for the attacks. But the townsfolk -- including Kai's childhood friend Sara (Cecilie A. Mosli), now a policewoman, and the odd innkeeper Miriam (Karin Park) -- seem to be hiding something, a mystery that Kai must decipher in order to heal wounds both old and new.

The End Result

Kristoffer Joner in 'Hidden'.

Kristoffer Joner in 'Hidden'.

© After Dark
Hailing form Norway, Hidden (Skjult) utilizes the country's natural landscape to mesmerizing effect, the lush forests, mountains and waterfalls crafting a dreamlike atmosphere similar to the outdoor scenes in Antichrist. Equally hypnotic is the lead performance by Joner, whose presence exudes the intensity needed to capture a character wrestling with the demons of childhood abuse.

The film's plot draws viewers in from the very first scene, but despite the promise of a twisty, shocking mystery, the story is relatively shallow for this sort of film and is slow to develop. Rather than working out some intriguing twists, the writers throw in unnecessary plot elements (mostly courtesy of the Miriam character) that do little beyond confusing the audience.

Still, director Pål Øie manages to squeeze the maximum effect from a limited script, and while the pacing might feel lethargic at times, it serves to set the deliciously mysterious mood (similar in effect to The House of the Devil) that ensures that you never truly lose your interest in the outcome.

The Skinny

  • Acting: B (Joner sparkles with deep-seeded intensity.)
  • Direction: B- (Beautifully shot but some scenes drag.)
  • Script: D+ (Needs more twists and fewer nonsensical and/or inconsequential scenes.)
  • Gore/Effects: C+ (Little to speak of, but what there is fits the overall appealing look of the film.)
  • Overall: C+ (Attractive and atmospheric but lethargic and needlessly padded.)

Hidden is directed by Pål Øie and is rated R for violence, disturbing images and language.

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