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Case Number 22127: Small Claims Court

Buy Hidden at Amazon


Confusion Films // 2011 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // August 26th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Josh Rode once stayed hidden for a week. Hide and Seek is easy when there's only one person playing.

Editor's Note

Our review of Hidden, published March 29th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

The only thing you'll find is death…

The Case

Fair warning: I'm going to spoil the hell out of this film. I'm going to tell you all of its secrets in the hopes that you will then have no reason—even morbid curiosity—to watch Hidden because it is, without question, the worst film I have ever seen.

It's not just the shoddy production values, although they could be labeled "amateur" at best. The aspect ratio is inconsistent, the video is grainy, and the color is washed out, so there is not enough contrast for a clear picture in the darker scenes. The sound is worse: a breeze going past the microphone blots out lines and the room tone often changes when the camera cuts to a different character in the same scene. People far away sound tinny and are difficult to understand.

I could live with the acting, too, even though it comes straight out of first-year art school. No one delivers a line with conviction, there are unnatural pauses during conversations, and everyone has "stand still when talking" syndrome.

There are plenty of technically flawed and poorly acted films that manage to create an enjoyable experience, but Hidden fails because it commits a horror film's greatest crime: it isn't the least bit scary. It telegraphs everything that's going to happen and does its killing strictly by rote; you always know who is going to die next. Forget any thoughts of psychological terror, this film can't even do a basic "jump out of the bushes" scare.

The story, based on a niche pastime called geocaching, is a thread with very loose kinks that are unraveled throughout the course of film. For the uninitiated, geocaching involves finding things someone has hidden using a handheld GPS. In this case, college students Trish (Ellen Hinch) and Dawn (Dakeeta Planty) agree to go on a geocache hunt under mysterious circumstances because the prize is $10,000. Trish needs the money because she has lost her scholarship; after her parents were murdered the year before, her grades plummeted. Her parents' murders were never solved, although the killer left enough clues that at first I figured the detective who worked the case must have been involved. Turns out I was giving the film too much credit; the detective was simply incompetent.

The girls head out to the woods and find themselves competing against two other teams. The first team is a bunch of stoners; they are the first to die, although it's never made clear why the bad guy wanted to kill them. The second team is a redneck father-and-son duo who are the film's comic relief. This is made clear when one of them digs in his nose with his finger as they are introduced. That's as hilarious as the film's comedy gets.

The rednecks die too, again without explanation. That leaves the two girls and the host of the contest, Luke (Michael Lesley). Luke says he works for a magazine, although that's never verified, and he spends the early parts of the film talking to himself, but clearly referring to the killer. "They have no idea what you have in store for them," he says, which tells us that they are in cahoots. At least until the end, when he tries to protect the girls and gets killed himself. Did he have a change of heart? Nothing in the story would indicate so, but that's the conclusion the story forces.

So what is the killer's motive? He leaves hints at the geocache stops; an old newspaper article, a document signed by Trish's mom forgoing custody of a son. Turns out he was raised by abusive foster parents because his mother didn't want him; his birth mother happened to be Trish's mother as well. So he killed both her parents and now wants to kill her. His serial killer outfit consists of a machete and military camouflage, complete with leaves sticking out everywhere. This is supposed to generate thrills when the camera stops in the middle of a forest scene for no apparent reason, but then…wait! Is that movement? Oh my God, the killer was there the entire time!

The last three sentences encompass the film's scare factor, and are just as scary as the film itself.

Anyway. Eventually the killer catches up to the girls, ties up Dawn, and exposits all the things we've already gleaned from his clues to Trish. Alas for him, as several timely back-story scenes let us know, Trish's father taught her how to protect herself from blade-wielding baddies and she dispatches him without apparent effort and then blows his head off.

Naturally there is a sting ending showing a leaf-covered guy with a machete trailing her a year later as she walks through the woods. Sequel, anyone?

There are no extras, so watching this will only waste 88 minutes of your life. I suggest something more constructive, like watching paint dry, instead.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 10

Perp Profile

Studio: Confusion Films
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Drama
• Horror
• Independent
• Suspense

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• Official Site

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