review by Diablo Joe
Bad people finding themselves trapped with even worse evil is a long-standing go-to in the horror genre. Criminals damned by their greed, anger, and rage who come up against malevolence far beyond their own can be a great platform for tension and fear.
Starting off with a literal bang, “Hideout” doesn’t waste time throwing us in the thick of its situation. Running from a liquor store heist gone wrong, three men and one woman suddenly find themselves on the run, with one of their own badly hit by a shopkeeper’s bullet. Seeking refuge and assistance at a remote house inhabited by a kindly, older woman and her young, alluring, and mysterious granddaughter, the group finds their emergency asylum to be less of a shelter and more of an insane variety.
What becomes unfortunate is that the gang’s tragic turn becomes a situation of endurance for the audience. When that breathless, kinetic opener comes up for air, it takes far too long to get back into the swing of the excitement. In and of itself, that wouldn’t be an issue had writer/director Kris Roselli then taken advantage of that shift in tone to build tension slowly and with aforethought. Character development and exploration, plot and backstory—all of these elements he seems to be reaching for but fails to deliver.
One of the biggest problems is the film’s male characters. Reed, the gang’s ostensible leader, and nervy, edgy Kyle spend the film chest-beating, arguing, and yelling ragefully at everyone. There’s a difference between the bad guys you love to hate and those you are loathe to watch, and they go from unpleasant to unbearable far too quickly.
The women fare much better. Kyle’s sister Sarah, stuck in between her two testosterone-fueled cohorts, is convincingly the fish-out-of-water who is in on the job solely so she can help fund her mother’s medical needs. But it’s the cryptic residents of the film’s titular house that work best in “Hideout.” Kindly, but with a dark story to share, matronly Bee is just a bit too calm in the face of her violent and unexpected visitors. But it is the captivating Rose who carries the film through even its most challenging parts. Seductive, hauntingly mysterious, and with a wicked smile, Audrey Kovár makes her role easily the best thing in the movie.
If it seems like there is a character missing in that list, there is. Fourth gang-member Rick suspiciously goes missing soon after the group arrives at the house. But the real mystery isn’t his disappearance; it’s the rest of his group’s casual dismissal of it. He’s all but forgotten through the rest of the picture—even it seems, with unintended absurdity, by the television news reports. It’s one of the many leaps in basic logic that pepper the film. These four sweaty late-night visitors, one with a bullet wound, are met with little concern by Bee and Rose. And while we discover why that is soon enough, our thieves never question their indifference. Characters urgently argue to leave the house in one scene, only to fight for exactly the opposite in the very next. A fantastic film’s more mundane elements shouldn’t require suspension of disbelief.
“Hideout” suffers from one of the collateral issues with films in the digital age. Celluloid was expensive. Gigabytes are cheap. The result is that movies, even indy ones, are becoming needlessly lengthy. At nearly two hours, “Hideout” takes far too much time to get to its final act. It is a shame because that’s when we finally step the tension back up, coupling it with some mighty impressive and horrifyingly grisly effects.
Had “Hideout” straightened out its logic and tempered its male characters a bit, it could have become a nifty little horror thriller with a fabulous femme fatale (literally) and terrifically gruesome scenes. Instead, it curses its audience with unpleasantness that isn’t welcome, even in the horror genre, and an implausibility that boggles instead of scares.
This devil of a reviewer gives “Hideout” 2 out of 5 imps