The Hide – movie review


The Hide – review

The thriller is a tricky genre.  You see, in many ways it is a horror film but it’s just that the horror is based wholly in the real, wholly in the concrete.  There is a sense of dread but not fear, but there is also a distinct sense of mystery because whatever is happening is just out of the realm of easy understandability.  At the heart of a thriller is its intelligence of plot, where a horror film aims for the gut a thriller aims for the head, for the mind, and if the mystery isn’t well made then that falls apart by the second act.  There is a very fine line between this mystery and horror though and if it isn’t walked right the film becomes one of any number of silly thrillers that are little more than a revision of something made a decade before.  Since the film Se7en we have seen countless serial killer films and they are all generally the same.  It is rare to get an intelligent thriller that isn’t walking in someone else’s shadow.  Enter The Hide, a slow burn of a film that leads you by the hand into the middle of a story you had no idea was happening, and you’re very thankful for that.

The Hide begins with a man setting up in his ‘hide’, or bird watching blind, for a long day of bird watching.  He is a meticulous man who sets every instrument in its place neatly before moving to the next item and he finishes with a picture of who we must assume is his wife.  As soon as he is set up he begins watching the birds, searching for any kind that he has not cataloged previously but before he can really get settled he finds a stranger at the door, a quiet man with a mean look who enters the hide unbidden.  The bird watcher is immediately suspicious of this stranger and the new man does little to allay his fears as he insists that he has to stay there, in the hide, to keep out of the rain.  As the day wears on the two men become begrudging friends and begin opening up more about themselves as they watch the birds.  As time passes though each man begins to become more and more suspicious of the other man as each seems to be hiding something and what they are hiding may mean the difference between life or death.

This is a very solid thriller.  What seems like a very boring drama about two men bonding in the wilderness takes on a dark edge as we learn more about the characters and what they may or may not be hiding from each other.  It is fascinating when a film like this comes along and is able to play something as ‘safe’ as bird watching and can play it against a thriller.  The acting is very cold and measured and each actor clings very tightly to their character’s secrets, giving little away, and without this acting the film wouldn’t have nearly the power it does.  While it is a little slow, this is a perfect example of a slow burn thriller that pays off at the end.  The best thing I could really say is this is the sort of under the radar film that you never hear of until it’s remade by Hollywood, and the film is that solid.

There are so many lazy, also-ran thrillers out today that it’s hard to find one that is genuinely smart and engaging and I am happy to find one that really kept me guessing.  Very good film that is worth looking out for.

8 out of 10


To Those In Need–a story


To Those In Need

    The snow was falling. This wasn’t the first snow of the season but this was the most significant snow, the first real snow. The city was huddled together against the cold and spreading darkness but passed in silence, defenses up against forced holiday cheer. As the snow falls the darkness seems to take on a life all its own and the masses move closer to one another, bumping against each other and grunting in response, angry at the closeness but loathing the dark and what it brings. And in the dark things begin to move. They come from the shadows, from between the walls, from behind dumpsters, from under cardboard castles, crawling out into the night and stretching like children as their days begin. The scavengers. And as they emerge the people on the streets purposefully ignore them, actively ignore them so as not to be infected with the sight of them. In the distance the tolling of the church bells. First one church, then another, as if in competition, then finally, distantly, a third and last church awakens to toll the birth of a new hour. One of the scavengers climbs from out of a dumpster and watches the people as they march by outside of the alley, hustling back and forth, some with packages, some with briefcases, some with purses and all of them actively ignoring him and as they do he smiles, smiles beneath a thick black beard that flows down from his face over his throat and across his chest. He reaches down absently and pulls his pants up with a hand as the other hand scratches in the nest of his beard. Suddenly he feels new eyes on him and turns to see one of the others staring him and his smile drops. No need for façade with these. He narrows his eyes and sees the heat coming off the woman and can smell her. She smells like rot and waste. The scent makes him sick. He stares at her and she stares back, wavering, after a moment she speaks.

  “I don’t like you.”

He smiles at her, his mouth spreading open as he leans forward towards her. The woman frowns takes a step back, then another and her eyes look away from the scavenger in the dumpster and out to the alley’s entrance and the people there. To get there she’d have to walk past the scavenger too close to him and she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t like him. He reminds her of a sick dog her grandpa had had down south. The woman looks over her shoulder to the back of the alley and sees more of the scavengers as they too stretch from waking. Beyond them is another alley entrance and more people passing by. Her skin is crawling. She doesn’t like it here. She doesn’t like it here. She doesn’t like it here. She is cold, and her feet hurt, and her belly is empty and she wants to be away from these sick dogs and back onto the streets amongst the people. She turns back and the scavenger stands before her still smiling, smiling with so many teeth, so many teeth. As he opens his mouth all she can think of is that dog, that sick red dog and the way it would look at her from under her grandpa’s porch, how it would growl at her from a cloud of flies, how it was sick, was very sick until her grandpa took a gun and made it better. She stepped away from the scavenger but he was faster and on her in a moment and after that she is cold no longer.

    In the streets the growing shadows thin out the crowds and as the bells toll hour after hour even the streets begin to empty. As the streets and sidewalks grow barren though the bars and restaurants fill with the sounds of laughter and talk, the sounds of the season barring out the thunderous sound of snowfall. As the people move indoors the scavengers slink from their hiding places, coming out toward the bright lights and roar of the people. Drawn, always drawn to them, and drawn to the people that they hate as much as the people hate them. They prefer the darkness, the silence, and the company of rats and insects. They don’t even want to be with one another but stick to packs for protection and little else. Some still reproduce, or attempt to, but such as them never do well in the wilds, on the streets, and there is nowhere else for them to go. Not here. Not in this place. This place is too loud, too bright, and there are too many people shoving in on them. It seems as if it’s always been like this. At least since the days when they came here, following the people as they migrated and shadowing them and now, and now they were here, trapped by the people and with them. The bells toll and the scavenger puts his hands over his ears and retreats into the darkness, sneering. So loud. Always so loud. He closes his eyes and can see the reverberations in his head, like great white waves rushing over him. He bends forward and vomits noisily into the alley and as he is bent forward he feels a hand on his back, patting him, comforting him. He turns quickly, vomit and blood dripping from his lips as he does.

  “My, my god, man, are, are you all right? I, I am from St. John’s down the street, I, I am making my holiday rounds, spreading the word of the Lord and giving aid or comfort where needed. You, you…are you alright my son? Do you need aid? Do you need comfort?”

The scavenger looked up at the priest and the smell of him was overpowering. He could smell the detergent in his clothes, the soap from his hands, the remnants of shaving foam and beneath it all the faint scent of cigarettes. The priest smiled down on him but the smile faltered then faded. The priest took a step away from him, then another, giving a sign of the cross as the scavenger licked the blood from his lips and smiled at the man. His teeth were not sharp, his hands were not powerful but he was stronger than this man, and he had learned where the softest parts were, the places where it was easiest to bite and get what he needed. He was hungry. The old woman was full of disease, of rot of the mind, rot of the lungs and that was making him sick. It was making the lights too bright, the sounds too loud. He needed to feed. Needed it now. He still lead his pack, was still the strongest of them but he was getting older, and if he let this disease live him in, let her tainted blood survive in her then they might make their move, might make sure he never saw another night. He saw the blood coursing through the priest and smelled the fear. And fear made it better, made the kill sweeter, made it like the old days, made it like when they were all much younger and the world much less crowded and loud. He smiled and the priest was frozen in his eyes, frozen in his stare. The scavenger could feel the blood caking and freezing in his beard and heard the others behind him, whispering to one another, watching to see what he’d do. He was sick. He needed to feed. He had waited long enough. He was old but even full of poison he was faster than a man and he was on the priest in a moment, too fast for the priest to scream, too fast for him to run. The scavenger stood before priest and looked into his eyes and grabbed his hands and could feel the blood thundering through his veins. His stomach growled. The scavenger looked into the eyes of the priest and saw the fear, the old fear, the fear his kind had seen since the beginning, when the scavengers and the humans rose from the same mud, and suckled from the same breasts before the scavengers chose a life of darkness and the humans a life of light. The scavenger fell to his knees before the holy man and brought his hands to his lips and held them at his lips and kissed them softly.

  “Go, priest, go now, go now and take this gift from a long lost brother, take this gift and go back to your world. Go back and remember why your kind fears the dark. Go and make merry while you still have a chance. Go and live. GO!”

    Screaming the last and shoving the man away. The priest shakes his head, dazed and looks away from the man kneeling before him, past him to the things that are running this way, and there, there is Satan, there is Lucifer, there are the adversaries agents and he is off, he is running, he is away into the lights, into the world, into the safety of the open air where it didn’t stink of blood and filth. And behind him a scream, a scream that will echo in his heart until the end of his days but he doesn’t look back, cannot look back, looking only to the distant church that quickly approaches him and falls on his knees before the savior, thanking him for this night and for every night he may have before him, and cannot help but weep as midnight’s bells sound out through the night.


Bite Marks–review


   Oh vampires, you are so darned popular these days it’s sickening.  I realize that you guys are hip, and have that whole danger aspect that the kids love these days but darn it I really need you guys to lay low for a while.  It’s just too much.  Give the other monsters a chance, will ya?  This goes for zombies too but we’ll deal with them another day.  On the docket for the day is Bite Marks, a decent enough vamp movie with a it of a twist to it but darn it, I am just tired of vampires.

   Bite Marks follows two men on a backpacking trip across country for a vacation.  The young couple decide to rest their legs a bit and hitch a ride with a homophobic trucker.  As the three of them travel the tension rises, though we aren’t sure if its sexual or otherwise but it breaks when they head to a salvage yard to get the truck looked at.  While at the yard the trucker looks into the back of the semi to check on the load he is carrying and finds that the coffins he was responsible for are empty, and their contents are stalking the salvage yard.  The three men suddenly find themselves hunted by the hungry undead and are forced to hide within the cab of the truck with no weapons and no way to call for help but as their desperation grows so does their ingenuity and if they can get past their differences and work together they may just survive the night.

   Bite Marks is a quick, clever little movie that will charm a lot of people, and heck, its refreshing to see a gay skewing horror film for a change, but in the end it’s still a generally by the numbers vamp movie.  There are a lot of fun ideas here, a nice cameo, and some self awareness that keep you interested but just not enough of a plot to give the film real legs.  The gags get old, the campires are not that great and in the end that’s what this movie is about, it’s a vampire movie and if they aren’t engaging then the movie just doesn’t work. Again, the film is fun, it just gets a little boring. 

   There is a lot to enjoy here and I wouldn’t want to turn people off of something that is clever, light hearted, and is generally fun but in the end this just isn’t a very good horror film.  It’s an ok movie, sure, but as horror films go it ain’t so great so check the trailers and see what you think.  Me, I am ready to give vampires a wide berth for a bit.

6.5 out of 10

Exit Strategy


   I have watched the Occupy movement as an interested observer since its inception.  It was a movement I didn’t understand completely but which I appreciated as far as the ideas behind it.  The movement seemed to grow organically and it spread like wildfire, building into something America hasn’t seen in decades – a youth driven protest movement.  After the ‘Arab Spring’ it seemed as if the fires of revolution were spreading to America.  What began as a strong, controversial movement though has slowly become commonplace and little more than a nuisance.  It has been heartbreaking to watch as this movement that began with such passion, such fire that it brought the ideals of the young and the low income onto the front page again and gave a face to an issue that isn’t sexy for the news to report.  As the days lead to weeks and then into months the movement has failed to take an official stand throughout the entire movement and the lack of clear vision and clear goals has lead to confusion over what the movement was even about.  The Occupy movement, once so vivid, once so impassioned has become old news and the message is being lost.  It breaks my heart to see how so much passion has begun to slip away.  The protests have faded, the anger has faded, and now the protesters have seemingly become little more than squatters and they are being treated as little more than that.

The time has come for an Exit Strategy.

   Time is running short on the Occupy movement.  What once was a vital movement that was a lightning rod for the confusion, anger, and frustration at a ‘system’ and its servants that many believe has forgotten the masses in order to serve the few.  There was a time when the movement had taken such a toll on the occupied cities and its servants that the police were doing things that only incited more anger and created more sympathy but instead of moving forward, instead of taking a stand, instead of focusing that rage on something that could be influenced the occupiers protested, they marched, but they didn’t change.  They didn’t evolve.  A movement like Occupy ‘X’ has to have a strategy, there has to be a goal, and there has to be an End Game and the time for that End Game is now.

   The thing about this movement is that it has lacked an overall focus and unifying goal.  It isn’t enough to rage against the ‘System’. It is not enough to be angry at the power players.  I understand that something like the Occupy movement that can begin on the grassroots level doesn’t necessarily start with lofty goals but as soon as you gain the headlines, the notoriety, and have that many people on your side then you have to evolve your vision and have to have a plan.  It isn’t enough to occupy, you have to work for change.  That is what has been frustrating as an observer – to see so much possibility be squandered.  And I admit my cowardice to join the movement but also admit that I never believed that this was the way to change the world.  One last thing I can admit…I was wrong.  You can change the world this way, with this movement, but the time to do that is slipping away.  The occupied cities have lost patience, the country has lost interest, and the movement has lost its focus and with many of the cities beginning to evict the occupiers we are at the end of this Occupy movement.  This doesn’t have to be the end.  This can be an evolution.  It can be the next step.  What needs to happen is that the movement needs to choose to leave the tent cities themselves.  They need to make that decision, and soon, and need to choose a date and leave.  I would leave on January 1, 2012.  Occupy Wall Street needs to take the forefront here, they began this movement and they need to end it.  They need to evolve it.  They need to make a plan and broadcast it and make it clear that on 1.1.12 the movement will take the next step, and that is to occupy through other means, through service, through charity, through political action, any number of ways and atop that they can also begin working on dates where they can target a place to occupy where the separate movements can gather and share stories of what they are doing and show that they are still there, still working.

Now is the time for definitive action from this movement.  Now is the time for the next step.  Now is the time for an Exit Strategy and time is running out.  The Occupy movement has been something that America has needed for a long time and that is a quantifiable involvement of the nation’s youth.  Politics aside, and this is an issue of politics, it is important for this country’s youth to be involved and invested in the nation again.  It is important for movement.  So much can be done to change this country, this world, and it’s time we started looking at how we can do that and not how we can change it for ourselves.  I hope that this movement makes a move, because I hate to think that it will be another ten, twenty, thirty years until there is another chance like this.