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