Hidden (DVD Review)

Hidden (DVD Review)A family has been hiding in an underground bunker for almost year as they live in constant fear of a dangerous entity that lives on the surface.  The story takes place in the small town of Kingsville.  Though they never really tell you which State it is, Alexander Skarsgard does try to effect a bit of a southern accent that sounds somewhat Virginian.  This is the kinda movie that relies pretty heavily on the big reveal of it’s titular villain.  And being that this is such a small film, there isn’t too much that I can say without spoiling it.  This is probably one of the smallest Sci-fi films I’ve ever seen.  And by small I mean most of the movie takes place underground in a space the size of two living rooms pushed together!
Hidden (DVD Review)
The film opens with the daughter Zoe awaking from a nightmare and fearing the the monsters from above have broken into their shelter.  You can tell that she’s gone through some serious trauma as she’s probably about thirteen and still clings to a doll for security.  As the story progresses it bounces back and forth to flashbacks of the day when everything changed.  It does so in a somewhat gradual manner, giving bits and pieces, which allows you to settle into everything and get to know the characters.  This is a character driven film so if you don’t connect with them right off the bat, the whole thing would fall apart.  The strongest performance by far has to be Skarsgard who not only holds the family together, but the entire movie as well.  The mother and daughter, though they do hold their own, are a bit on the wooden side.


The strength of this film relies pretty heavily on the performances and chemistry of ALL of the actors.  Having said that, they definitely succeeded in that area!  I was really surprised to see this warm parental side of Skarsgard who plays the father, Ray.  His breakout, and most notable role in the HBO series True Blood as Eric Northman was much more along the lines of a smoldering sex symbol with a touch of danger.  But I gotta say the dude really pulls you into his relationship with his daughter.  There are four rules that the family has to help them cope and stay alive; 1. Never be loud, 2. Never loose control, 3. Never open the door, and 4. Never talk about the Breathers.  The breathers being the name that they’ve given the things that live on the surface.
There are moments when the daughter Zoe (played by Emily Alyn Lind) starts to freak out about the whole situation and instead of yelling at her to calm down or toughen up, her dad sits her down, has her close her eyes, and takes her on something of a guided family meditation.  This I found to be truly heart warming.  There isn’t much in the way of interaction between the parents themselves, and I think that that was probably a good idea as the story is about the family as a whole, and as is the case for most familial units, the kids come first.

There isn’t much in the way of musical score as this is a pretty intimately shot film.  You can’t really have a bunch of complex melodic flourishes without taking the viewer out of the moment.  But the little music that they DO have is quite well executed.  Though it mostly consists of background noise and soundscapes, there are a few key melodies during the emotional scenes that help to draw you into the familial relationship.  In regards to the sound, the dialogue is a bit under-mixed.  It’s difficult to hear over the sound effects so I turned on the subtitles which helped a lot.  For example, if you happen to be chewing food while watching, you might need the subtitles.  It seems to be an issue of tonal balance that makes the dialogue a bit muddy.

The visual effects are fairly decent.  But don’t expect anything on the caliber of say a “Jurassic Park”.  This is clearly a low budget film so the effects are mostly there to serve the moment.  One thing that I was particularly impressed with was the set design.  There aren’t a ton of props in the shelter where they live, but you can tell that they put a lot of effort into giving every one of their personal possessions a murky and weathered appearance that comes with living underground.  I could actually see this being adapted into a stage play.  Aside from a few dramatic angles it would work pretty well in front of a live audience.

At about the start of the third act the movie takes a bit of turn.  Now, it may SEEM like it’s heading down a boring and cliched road.  But stick with it!  It’s about to shift gears in a somewhat unconventional way.  However, this shift, though it is interesting, is such a dramatic emotional change from what the movie has given thus far, that when it tries to go back to the intimate moments, it kinda falls flat.  But overall it’s definitely worth watching for the family dynamics and suspenseful scenes that take place underground.

Hidden (DVD Review)

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC
Resolution: 480i
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Clarity/Detail:  As DVD’s go the detail is fairly decent.  Nothing to write home about.  But it’s serviceable.
Depth:  As the majority of this movie takes place in close quarters there isn’t much in the way of depth.  There are a couple distance shots during the flash backs that are ok.
Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and consistent.  For a film that takes place in the dark they did a great job with the darker tones.
Color Reproduction:  Not bad.  Overall it’s a little on the hazy side.  But I think that that may have been a stylistic choice.
Flesh Tones:  Good and clear.  But like I said, everything is pretty dark in general so flesh tones aren’t super important.
Noise/Artifacts:  Seemed pretty clean on a whole.

Hidden (DVD Review)


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Surround, French 5.1 Surround.

Languages: English and French (Dubbed in Quebec)

Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish.

Dynamics: The sound effects and dialogue are quite disproportionate.  To the point where if you’re not in a completely silent room while watching you’ll need subtitles.

Low Frequency Extension: Not much in the way of LFE.

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is pretty muddy.  Especially when there are sound effects happening at the same time.

There are no extras included on this DVD.

Hidden (DVD Review)

If you’re looking for massive action scenes or complex story lines then this may not be the film for you.  But if you’re into small intimate stories that focus on the characters and the suspense, then it’s definitely worth checking out.  This isn’t the kind of movie that you’ll be talking about for years to come.  But it will definitely serve as an enjoyable movie night addition.
Hidden (DVD Review)

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