Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hidden (2009)

Deeply wound in mood and mystery

This is a mystery tale from Norway--even with the title, which could be any number of things--that also includes some elements of a horror/thriller that revolves around a man who returns back to an area that brings back flooding memories and a new set of circumstances while at it. Is it the house or the woods or just the out of reach town that keeps perpetuating more terrible events? A boy is off urinating in the outskirts of a wooded area while his ride is parked in the road. Another boy, who appears to have been buried just prior, runs into the road and a semi-truck dodges him but hits and kills the passengers in the parked car.

Nineteen years later and Kai Koss' mom has passed away who he ran from all those years ago with some resentment towards her abusive ways. He's inherited her utilitarian house that seems to re-open old wounds when he steps inside and has some flashing haunts of her presence as if she's still there in the flesh to torment him. He goes to burn the whole house, just as he requested of her body to get rid of the reminder once and for all, but is stopped by the local cop, Sara, who takes his gas canisters yet gives an ear to listen to him if need be. Though he wanders about with little words and encounters the small town's folk who act somewhat coy, as if they have something to hide or a secret that is best not said aloud. He's trying to figure out why he's returned himself when there's a mysterious disappearance of a young couple that were last seen in his inherited house. The manhunt is on in the local wooded area to catch who it was or find some evidence, though it keeps pointing back to who else but the newcomer Kai. Throughout the ordeal he gets flashes of that night that happened many years ago and where the other boy, Peter, ended up, who went missing after the crash and reportedly was last seen near a waterfall with only shoes to show for it. Though Kai thinks differently.

This is a somewhat simple film that mainly concentrates on producing a steady mood and elements of mystery with not much else to get in the way. I have to say, it's refreshing to see a film that does what it does well despite being basic in execution. There are no explosions, unnecessary sex scenes, love triangles, excessive violence, just what was mentioned before. You can count on it since it knows what it wants and sticks its guns to it. Some portions do get a little confusing and trail off in whether it's relevant or not--most likely to throw you off scent--though the film unfolds gradually and has a certain balance and consistency to its framework. "Hidden" has an almost dream like quality, in that nothing is what it seems and can't be trusted that it's reality or illusion. Or is it a memory or present time at points? The enclosed wooded area makes those sentiments come to life in that the outside world doesn't exist but just this place and those characters and that dilemma that must be solved right now.

Like a reclusive celebrity, the movie is highly elusive about what amount of information it lets out at a time. Even the trailer is highly puzzling and seems to be edited to lure you in with the abstract rather than the concrete. There are McGuffins thrown left and right, mysterious phone calls and old photographs that can make your mind wander closer to the truth or farther away, it's hard to say exactly. It's an experience that may or may not be figured out by the viewer but it still manages to tap into different, unexplored sensations in the meantime. It's an enigma within an enigma that works that way all the way down to the wire when the credits roll and you're left with a puzzle to solve and a side to choose. That gives the film replay value to want to see if you're able to catch different clues on the next time around.

Rating: 7.5/10

Director: Pal Oie (Dark Woods)
Stars: Kristoffer Joner, Cecilie A. Mosli
Link: IMDB

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