The Hide (2008)

Description (from the IMDB):
On the windswept Suffolk mudflats creaks a bird-hide, inside which hovers Roy Tunt, a prematurely aged, mildly obsessive-compulsive birder. With one more sighting – the elusive sociable plover – he will have ‘twitched’ the entire British List. Tunt has his shortwave radio, packed-lunch and a portrait of his ex-wife Sandra for company. Suddenly, in the midst of a conversation with Sandra’s portrait, the hide door blows open and a bedraggled stranger – unshaven, edgy and bloodied introduces himself as Dave John, a fugitive from the storm. After a tense introduction, the two men discover that they have a good deal in common, sharing sandwiches, tea and personal exchanges which are frank, poignant and often funny. As the two men begin to form a close bond news of a police manhunt sets them both on edge driving their fragile relationship to a tragic conclusion.

Special Features:
None (Screener Copy)

Cast:
Alex MacQueen as Roy Tunt, Phil Campbell as Dave John

Written by Tim Whitnall
Directed by Marek Losey

I’ve said it many times on this blog, but it stands repeating: one of the most important things to do in order to make sure your low-budget film does not suck is to know your limitations and stick within them.  If you only have a little bit of money, there should be no epic-explosions-and-gore-battlefield scenes, or saving-a-person-on-the-exterior-of-a-skyscraper scenes.  You need to know your limitations, and one of the best ways to be sure to do that is starting from the script.  THE HIDE is a perfect example of this notion: the whole movie is (basically) two guys talking in a shack.  It doesn’t get much more limited than that.

Based on a play, THE HIDE is the story of an ornithologist looking for an elusive bird, whose day alone in his hide is interrupted by a tattooed thug; or maybe it’s not about that at all.  This is one of those movies where the whole time you will be thinking “ok, are they really talking about what they are talking about, or is there something deeper going on here I just don’t get?”  THE HIDE is billed as a “thriller,” but I have a bit of an issue with that; nothing happens for, well, a really, REALLY long time… which is far from thrilling.

I am all for “slow-burn” type flicks; movies that start slowly and then build and build into an awesome finale.  THE HIDE is a bit of a slow-burn, but its momentum is slower than most.  Really, THE HIDE is more of a smolder than a slow-burn; it takes its sweet-ass time getting to what it really has to say.  Which, at times, can be fine.  However, for THE HIDE I felt like it took way, way too long to get to the point.  I agree that you need to get to know these characters and get to know some background for the finale of this particular story to be effective.  Sure.  That’s fine.  But seriously: it’s close to 60 minutes into this 82-minute film before it finally picks up.  There are little tiny flashes here and there, but in the slow-burn you still need something to keep the audience’s attention.  While I am glad that I stuck it out to the end, if it were not for the fact that I was reviewing this film I might not have finished the journey.

Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of movies, or maybe it was telegraphed, but the climax of this film was no surprise to me.  I’m not going to give it away, but I figured out very, very early into this very, very slow story how it was going to end.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I knew every detail of the finale, but I knew the overall concept.  There was no “twist” for me.  I lean more to the “telegraph” answer than the fact that I am just so informed on the movie scene… I might be wrong, but I bet you’ll have it figured out before it is spelled out.

As far as the technical side of things goes, THE HIDE was an amazingly well made film, overall.  The acting from the leads was very strong, and it needed to be to hold an audience with just two people on screen for 82 minutes.  Losey’s work was solid on both the directing of actors front as well as the visual side of things.  The picture is completely composed of muted, drab colors that form a perfect visual metaphor for the people inhabiting this story, and the visuals presented continue to be interesting even though there is a pronounced lack of variety of things to look at.  One piece that did, well, annoy the crap out of me: hold the damn camera still.  Very, very few shots in THE HIDE are still, most have at least a small jiggle or waver to them.  I don’t know if this was intended as a way to keep the limited visuals interesting – it may have been – but truthfully it just pissed me off and made me a bit queasy.  The picture quality, sound quality, and the production quality were all top-notch and did not come off as low-budget at all, which goes to show you that when you plan it correctly you will have the money you need to make your low-budget movie look anything but.

Overall, I enjoyed THE HIDE… in theory.  It was an interesting story with engaging visuals and engrossing performances.  It was just too slow, too long, and too lackluster for me.  I think I would have enjoyed either the stage version of the story, or a much-abridged version of the film a lot more.  THE HIDE was not a bad film at all, but it was just too little for too long.  This slow-burn didn’t have enough fuel to keep its self ablaze, and for me fizzled out well before the finale.

Overall 5.5 / 10

THE HIDE on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305816/

THE HIDE for sale: http://www.shop.breakingglasspictures.com/The-Hide-853937002773.htm

THE HIDE site: http://www.thehidethemovie.com (or at least, that is supposed to be the site, all that is there is a page in Japanese that does not seem to be at all about this movie… but on the other hand, I don’t read Japanese, so who knows?)

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