Kris Roselli’s supernatural thriller Hideout provides you with a good idea of where it’s going immediately but creates a twisty good time in its route to the end.
“Out of the frying pan into the fire,” as the saying goes. It’s not uncommon in movies to see characters so desperate to flee a situation that they fail to recognize they’re running towards something even worse, that while they remain in fear of what’s behind them they are about to be destroyed by what’s up ahead. Kris Roselli’s Hideout places this thrilling narrative trope within a home invasion setting, exhibiting bad guys on the run who unknowingly invade the home of an evil higher than themselves, blurring victim with villain into total moral obfuscation. Every character is an enigma whom we know nothing about beyond the immediate situation, allowing for a nihilistic horror in which anything can happen to anyone while we remain ethically unbothered and thoroughly entertained.
Hideout opens on eerie shots of a desolate town, missing persons posters plastered across telephone poles and dark, boarded up houses lining the streets. The ghostly calm is violently interrupted by a team of four thieves fleeing a botched robbery, and the panicked gang screech away down the backroads in search of a place to hide. Reed (Chris Wolf) has been shot, and their faces are all over the news, and Kyle (Brian Enright), Sarah (Katie Lyons) and Marshall (Mark A Baum) are desperate for somewhere to lay low and treat their partner’s wounds.
Arriving at a mysterious little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, the frantic group are met by an old lady, Bee (Janice LeFlam) who welcomes them inside, and stitches up the now unconscious Reed. There’s a subtle, almost imperceptible sinister aura about the house; it’s oddly barren, the old lady is a little too eager to help, it all just feels ever so slightly wrong. They tell Bee the injury is from a hunting accident, they’re all on edge, and while they all stand around anxiously a young girl walks in, and the tension is immediately understood.
The girl, who Bee announces is her granddaughter Rose (Audrey Kovar), seems to take over the room just by being there. She taunts Kyle with hints of supernatural ability, spooking him about her psychic abilities and the tragic future she sees promised by his palm. As the supernatural elements come into play, things begin to get weird. Sarah and Kyle are having vivid hallucinatory experiences, and as their reality becomes confusing the source of their gaslighting remains uncertain; there are ominous forces about, but is the town, the house, the old lady, the girl? Where did their fourth member Marshall go, disappearing right when they got to the house? Reed finally wakes up, and it turns out he’s the most volatile member of the household. Where Kyle is hesitant, nervous and careful, Reed is aggressive, impulsive, and callous. He ignores Kyle’s fearful warnings about the house and about Rose, and the infighting becomes increasingly present.
To risk going back on the run, or remain in this unsettling environment? To kill the enigmatic Rose, or keep her as a prisoner? So many decisions that nobody agrees on and, as they fight, it becomes increasingly evident that their situation is hopeless. They didn’t get the money, but Kyle wasn’t planning on spending it to cure their mother, and it wouldn’t have been enough to cure her cancer anyway. They managed to escape the scene of the crime, but to what end? Hideout is not a morality tale nor a descent into madness, but a film that examines those pathways down a road of tight twists and turns, and it always leads to the same place: it’s all for nothing. It doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t matter because it never mattered. This group of petty criminals never had a chance, and like with many great slashers, that layer of inevitability adds to the scary fun.
What most excited me about Hideout is the structure. A supernatural thriller by way of Reservoir Dogs, we are thrown into this tense situation and given no context beyond the immediate present. With no established precedent, their every action and decision is completely unpredictable. This of course drastically amplifies the suspense, but there is another benefit to such tightly contained plotting. Rather than observing how this experience affects characters we understand, we are presented with a cast of question marks who essentially come to be defined to us exclusively by how they handle their current circumstances. Everything anyone does is totally unpredictable – but not unprecedented, because that precedent is being established with every action.
With Hideout, director Kris Roselli serves up a relentlessly unpredictable and delightfully frightful experience, centered around characters and how they relate to each other. From the first tension-filled moment we are given a clear idea of the sort of movie we’re getting into, and then taken along a thrilling roller coaster of suspense and morbid intrigue.
Hideout is now available to watch on digital and on demand.