The Hide is an interesting, little slow-burn thriller. It takes the engaging premise of an intimate stage play and successfully translates it to an increasingly claustrophobic confessional.
The film features only two characters because that is all the economy of the tale requires. Roy Tunt (Alex MacQueen) is a fastidious man with a singular passion in life: bird watching. He often holes up in tiny shacks known as hides and observes his feathered friends, hoping to catch a glimpse of certain elusive species. It is a fairly solitary existence, until the day that David John (Phillip Campbell) steps into his hide. Their first meeting is truly awkward as David shows up at Roy's door unannounced expecting shelter from the elements. David's manner is vaguely menacing and Roy seems unsure as to how best to handle the situation. So he lets David in.
This marks the beginning of the game that will soon consume both men. It starts off innocently enough as they try to feel each other out. Although they clearly have very different backgrounds, they slowly bond over sandwiches and inane chit chat. Roy educates David about the intricacies of bird calls while David tells uncouth jokes about nuns that offend Roy's delicate sensibilities. Soon conversation turns to love and loss as Roy talks about his philandering ex-wife, garnering much sympathy from David in the process. Just as both men find a common understanding, Roy's radio crackles to life and informs him of a suspicious white male that the cops are in pursuit of. Wouldn't you know it? David is white, male and not that long ago seemed awfully suspicious.
I don't want to spoil any of the particulars of the film's climax so I will proceed with maddening ambiguity. Most viewers will see the 'big twist' coming from a mile away. It is so obvious that I'm not sure director Marek Losey and writer Tim Whitnall intend for us to perceive it as a revelation at all. They get a lot more mileage out of shocking us with the details of the 'how' and the 'why' rather than making a grand flourish with the 'who' of it all. There is a delicious aspect of Grand Guignol which creeps into the unassuming environs of this low-key tale that is audacious and heartily welcome. Writer Whitnall has done an impressive job of adapting his own stage play into a tight little exercise in slow-mounting tension. For his part, director Losey keeps the pace up and has the good sense to let MacQueen and Campbell's performances steer the show.
For a film featuring only two characters, even one mediocre performance would sink the entire affair. Fortunately both MacQueen and Campbell are up to the task. Campbell sells the introverted nature of David's character while MacQueen has an absolute ball embodying the weirdness that is Roy Tunt. MacQueen really gets under the character's skin which is no surprise considering he got to portray Roy in the stage play as well. Roy is an obsessive, nebbishy guy but MacQueen lends him such an off-kilter energy that even a mundane discussion of power tools or specific bird calls is utterly captivating. His work alongside Campbell's is proof that sometimes character pyrotechnics are the only special effects required by a film.
The movie was presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The image was fairly dark but seemed to have reasonable shadow detail. It was also clear and free of obvious defects. The color palette consisted of desaturated grays, blues and earth tones which were accurately represented here.
The English audio was presented in a 2.0 Stereo track. While I would have appreciated a 5.1 audio mix, it wasn't absolutely critical given the dialogue heavy nature of the film. With that said, the lack of any subtitles is a glaring omission. There are times when the dialogue is mixed low or is plain unintelligible. I found myself back-tracking on multiple occasions to pick up on something I had missed (often with little success). The audio track does provide able support to Debbie Wiseman's haunting score.
The primary extra is a Making of (10:34) featurette. It describes (with helpful narration) the creation of the film on a tight schedule with a shoestring budget. We get enthusiastic insight from the producers, writer, director, cast and assorted crew members. Director Losey describes his affection for the inane banter that masks the horrors that pop up late in the game. He also indicates the clever use of lighting to denote distinct zones of the hide which serve different tonal purposes. The disc rounds things out with a Photo Gallery and Trailers (for the feature as well as other Breaking Glass releases).
The Hide revels in finding the sinister undertones of the inane chatter that strangers engage in. Director Marek Losey and writer Tim Whitnall have crafted a quiet little thriller that hums along until the finale which tips over into full-blown horror. Some of the twists in the tale will be easily apparent to fans of the genre but the manner in which they are communicated is still a sight to behold. Highly Recommended.