Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hidden (2009)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest IV.


Now Hidden I liked a lot. It's the foreign film of the batch. (Note: British/Australian etc. films don't count as foreign only because their language is still English). Every Horrorfest has one film that's not in English. But unlike past years, this one is not Asian, but Norwegian. It's kind of convoluted (which I actually tend to like), but that means it reminds me of films like Crazy Eights, and The Abandoned - also because it's about a man who returns to the house of his childhood to uncover secrets from the past. There also tends to be at least one doppelganger film in every Horrorfest, and this year I think I'd have to split that honor between this film and Lake Mungo. Here, it's not really clear whether the doppelganger is really that, or something else, but then, a lot of doppelganger stories tend to be subtle and suggestive, and not easily pinned down, don't they?

This film has a very intriguing plot. It all revolves around an abusive mother. Her son escapes one night, and while running through the woods, causes a truck to crash into a car by the side of the road, killing another little boy's parents. The son apparently escapes, only to return decades later when his mother has finally died, and he inherits the house. The house appears to be haunted - or is someone still living there? What happened to the little boy whose parents were killed is a bit of a mystery. The cops were convinced that he fell off a cliff into a huge (and very beautiful) waterfall in those woods, after wandering around the night of the crash that killed his parents. Yet there's also some speculation that -

I might be spoiling a little bit here, but I think it helps to talk this stuff out, since the film is less than completely clear - but if you don't want to be spoiled, you might want to skip ahead to the next film.

There's also some speculation that the boy may have been captured by the abusive mother and taken in place of the son who escaped. Is he still alive, after all these years, living in that house? But whether or not there really is a second individual, is under suspicion. And the true identity of the man who returns to the house is also unclear. What really happened that night of the crash? I'm not even sure myself, after seeing the movie. It's one of those films where the credits roll and you're still left guessing at this and that. Which is good fun, if you ask me, but I hate when there's not really an answer key. I like to be given clues and have time to work theories out and such, but when the right answer is left open-ended, it leaves me feeling like, "well, if there's no 'right' answer, then why bother trying to find it?" And if there are clues leading to alternate conclusions, and neither one is necessarily correct, well... Interpretation is a great thing, but I think it would be interesting to know what the director/writer intended.

Great film, though. Good atmosphere. Captivating characters. Beautiful (and also creepy) environment. I like the mood and the tone of the film. And it makes you think, which is always a plus in my book. It would probably frustrate a lot of people (even me, to some extent), but I really liked it.

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