THE HIDDEN. An entertaining must-watch scifi movie
There are actors who can be closely associated with their characters. Danny Trejo is almost always the bad guy ready to rip out his enemies’ innards with his bare hands; Morgan Freeman is an experienced cop, businessman, or even God; and Jennifer Aniston is simply Rachel Green. Meanwhile, Kyle MacLachlan is typically seen as a mysterious sophisticate entangled in a bizarre intrigue. Agent Dale Cooper, however, was not his first foray into playing an FBI agent. Three years prior, we met another FBI agent – Lloyd Gallagher.
The similarities between The Hidden and Twin Peaks don’t end with the main character. Right from the start of the movie, we encounter the first incarnation of the villain – a man driving a flashy Ferrari, played by Chris Mulkey, who also portrayed Hank Jennings. Soon, Sheriff Truman and Agent Cooper… I mean, Sergeant Beck and Agent Gallagher, come across his path, but the chemistry between them closely resembles the duo from Twin Peaks. Beck/Truman is the upright man who will use his fists to settle matters when words fail, while Gallagher/Cooper is a detached-from-reality officer with impeccable morals and unconventional investigative methods.
There are more similarities – paranormal elements, mysteries, animals that aren’t what they seem to be – but the likelihood that David Lynch was inspired by a film occupying the lower shelves of video rental stores is slim. In those days, so-called buddy cop movies were exceptionally popular (just think of Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs, or Alien Nation, which most closely resembles The Hidden). Lynch’s earlier works often played with pop culture conventions, typically revealing their twisted aspects. On the other hand, it’s difficult to write about similarities to a series that becomes increasingly dissimilar from season to season.
What sets The Hidden apart from many similar productions are primarily the screenplay and its execution. Today, Jack Sholder’s film (director of, among others, Generation X, the first attempt to adapt Marvel’s mutant adventures for the screen, and the second part of A Nightmare on Elm Street) may be associated with movies specifically made for the video market, but it was also screened in cinemas, where it managed to earn nearly ten million dollars on a five-million-dollar budget. Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that, aside from using a few worn-out clichés, we get a decent thriller with a solid, albeit somewhat easily uncovered twist, as well as interesting science fiction, several humorous elements, and very good action scenes with a substantial body count. Films like The Hidden will always be one step ahead of movies like xXx or Fast and Furious, precisely because, amid all their absurdity, they still deliver brutal entertainment, and the blood spilled in them is not added in post-production.
The story is very good, and if Hollywood were to take notice of it, I wouldn’t have any objections. The antagonist from another planet is evil to the core, though it may not be a matter of consciously acting against social norms; he simply doesn’t know them, and the morality of his world is evidently vastly different. If he desires something, he must have it, and if someone gets in his way, he must eliminate them. There are no unnecessary formalities or chit-chat; the alien kills ruthlessly to remove obstacles. We already know that Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o will appear together in a buddy movie-type production, and this screenplay would be perfect for them, fitting the standards of today’s remakes. To add some edge, Chad Stahelski (the director of the two John Wick films) would have to be behind the camera.
The Hidden is a fascinating blend of conventions and surprises. On one hand, we have a chase scene where a car shatters a glass pane being carried across the street (it’s hard to come up with a more clichéd idea), but on the other hand, there are unexpected solutions, and the battle against an evil that seems impossible to tame keeps you in suspense for the entire ninety-seven minutes. The alien, in its determination and power, resembles the Predator, but instead of a spear, it carries a boombox on its shoulder, listens to heavy metal, and steals cassette tapes from stores. In short, it’s a must-watch for people with a fondness for the 80s, fans of Twin Peaks, and anyone who enjoys action and science fiction cinema in a purely entertaining yet non-trivial form.