31 Days of Halloween — Day 30: Hidden (2015) — by Dr. Shock

31 Days of Halloween - Hidden (2015)

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast, Universal Monsters Cast and Land of the Creeps horror podcasts. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

It isn’t long after 2015’s Hidden begins that we realize the Duffer Brothers (who wrote and directed the film) are setting us up for a major surprise.

For the last 301 days, Ray (Alexander Skarsgård), his wife Claire (Andrea Riseborough) and the couple’s daughter Zoe (Emily Alyn Lind), have been living in an underground bunker. Despite the tight conditions, Ray and Claire go out of their way to make things comfortable for Zoe, playing games with her and reading her stories, yet at the same time reminding the young girl to be as quiet as possible, so as not to alert “the Breathers” lurking above.

While dealing with an unwanted pest (a rat that had been digging its way into their canned goods), Ray and Claire inadvertently start a fire, then work frantically to hide all evidence of it, hoping that the Breathers took no notice of their unfortunate accident.

What happened to drive this small family underground, and who (or what) are the Breathers that are searching for them? The answers to these questions will eventually be revealed, setting up an ending that’s guaranteed to shock the hell out of you.

Yet as astonishing as the final 10 minutes of Hidden are, it’s the time we spend with its three central characters, huddled together in the claustrophobic confines of their subterranean shelter, that draws us in and captures our attention.

Ray, played so well by Alexander Skarsgård, has a special bond with his daughter, taking her side whenever a disagreement about dinner arises and playing a nightly game that reminds them all of the life they left behind. Andrea Riseborough’s Claire, on the other hand, is more grounded in the “here and now,” worrying about their food supply and coming up with a series of rules designed to keep Zoe’s mind off the Breathers (one of the main rules, in fact, is that they can no longer mention the Breathers by name).

Both Skarsgård and Riseborough are excellent in their respective roles, and Emily Alyn Lloyd proves to be one of the better child actors to come along in a while, conveying the fear, anxiety and frustration of being cut off from the world above, yet remaining hopeful that brighter days are ahead. Thanks to these three finely realized characters, Hidden keeps us watching as we wait patiently for its big reveal.

The Duffer Brothers do drop a few hints (by way of flashbacks) as to what brought the family to this desperate state, and it’s to the filmmakers’ credit that, even though we’re fully expecting a twist at the end, it still manages to surprise us once it rolls around.

Hidden may not be the most original movie, either in its storyline (1985’s Day of the Dead was set primarily in an underground shelter, as were more recent movies like The Divide and Beneath) or its execution (starting with his 1999 movie, The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan has given us one twist ending after another), but because of the extraordinary performances by its cast, we’re more than happy to go along for the ride.

—Dr. Shock

Dr. Shock’s links:
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Dave appears on another horror podcast called Land of the Creeps

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2 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 30: Hidden (2015) — by Dr. Shock

  1. Day 30 – Don’t Go in the House

    Being made in 1979, but only released at the start of 1980, Don’t Go in the House comes across as a very early attempt at sorta making a slasher film. There’s certainly a body count, even if it’s a modest number compared to where slashers would go after Friday the 13th would help fully create the template for slasher movies. When Donny does kill his victims, he’s even decked out in a costume complete with a mask and his weapon of choice – a flamethrower. It’s a nice combination and one that would have perfectly suited a future slasher movie, but at least in Don’t Go in the House, Donny so rarely is decked out with the outfit and holds the flamethrower.

    For very early on, and subsequently for most of the film, Don’t Go in the House gives off Psycho vibes. The first time Donny heads home, he’s literally making his older mother some tea and brings it up to her bedroom in their large, old house. Without seeing the film before, when the camera refused to show the mother’s face as she was sitting in the chair, I was expecting the film to be a flat out rip-off of Psycho with it only being revealed at the very end that she was dead all along. Instead, Donny quickly learns that his mother has died while he was at work and it’s her death that causes Donny to snap. Just like Norman Bates, Donny has been traumatized by his mother and feels the need to punish other women that the voices in his head deems worthy of dying. There is a slight difference where Norman had a few victims come to him at Bates Motel, but for Donny, he has to go out and find his own potential victims. Donny trying to lure women back to his home is pretty cringeworthy as he’s terrible at acting relaxed. This is a guy who is clearly trying way too hard to get women into his truck and later into his home that it amazes me that anyone was even fooled by Donny.

    Since nearly the entire film focuses on Donny, we’re forced to endure the actor, Dan Grimaldi (Donny), in nearly every scene. Although Donny can be fairly good when he’s screaming, the vast majority of his lines come off as wooden and incredibly poor. Apparently Grimaldi later found a bit of success on the HBO series, The Sopranos, in the 90s, but Don’t Go in the House was Grimaldi’s very first movie. It’s too much to expect from such an inexperienced actor, in addition to a first time director, four writers attached to the movie without any of them ever writing a screenplay before. Don’t Go in the House is a small movie made by a group of inexperienced kids and the end result was certainly not a breakout performance from anyone.

    There was some potential in the film though. The basic concept of the crazy man killing women with a flamethrower, interacting with their burned bodies, and then the bodies apparently coming back to life to kill him, is actually a fun idea. It’s the sort of movie that could actually end up being good if it’s remade by a more experienced team. Despite the very small budget of a mere $250,000, the design of the burned corpses looked pretty good to me. The three main burned corpses are the star attractions of this film.

    Overall, Don’t Go in the House is a cheap horror movie made in the 70s and it shows. I imagine if you were to watch it with some friends, it could be an entertaining experience, just laughing at the shoddy acting and some of the unusual scenes such as a far too long of a scene where Donny buys some new fancy threads to impress at the disco. Don’t Go in the House clocks in at a standard ninety minutes and with it being available for free if you have Amazon Prime, it’s not the worst movie that you could watch.

    Rating: 4.5/10

  2. Day 30: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

    This is one of my favorite films from my childhood and the last film with Karloff as The Monster. At this point in the series, the village of Frankenstein feels cursed because of Dr. Frankenstein’s scientific meddling with creation. The villagers are not happy when Dr. Frankenstein’s son, Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, shows up.

    I love the meta moment when Baron Wolf von Frankenstein complains that people have actually begun referring to the monster as Frankenstein. It’s okay though because Ygor explains that the monster was actually Baron Wolf von Frankenstein’s brother. The Monster’s father was Dr. Frankenstein and his mother was lighting so the monster basically is a Frankenstein.

    Showings of the old Universal Monsters were becoming popular again so Universal decided to cash in a make another Frankenstein film. This film was very successful which inspired a Universal to make slew of new horror films in the 1940’s. Although I love how this film looks, it’s not quite up to par with the aesthetics of the first two films. 8.5/10 (but I love it like an 11)

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