Film: The Hide
UK Release date: Out Now
Director: Marek Losey
Starring: Alex Macqueen, Phil Campbell, Laura Hopwood, Howard Ward, Fred Perry
Running time: 82 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
An absorbing thriller set against the backdrop of the Suffolk countryside, not exactly words we’re used to hearing but there you have it. How about the words ‘bird watching’ and ‘sociable plover’ combined with the phrases ‘must see movie’ and ‘macabre gem’? Thought not. Marek Losey has an uphill battle on his hands with The Hide, and even though success seems more unlikely than the sighting of that elusive bird, the movie itself remains a riveting drama that deserves your full attention.
Roy Tunt (Alex MacQueen) is a quirky loner who spends his days in a ‘hide’ - a secluded seaside shelter where he watches and documents the many species of birds that pass over the shoreline. His only company is a short-wave radio, a portrait of ex-wife Sandra and his chicken paste sandwiches. One gloomy day, his meticulous routine is interrupted by the arrival of David (Phil Campbell), a mysterious man on the run from something. Roy is initially hostile towards David, but the two men gradually let their guards down and find themselves engaged in deep conversation - lots of deep conversation.
A police helicopter can be heard in the distance, but as Roy and David exchange tales, they form a strange and bewildering bond that brings them closer. The dark and terrifying truth is yet to come to light, but the escalating terror is about to push them towards a tragic and inevitable conclusion. Two characters. One hide. One murderer. One victim. The Hide is a tense, minimalist drama that dares to take the audience inside the minds of two men from the outskirts of society. Mark Losey’s feature debut wont appeal to everybody, but if it’s a psychological game of cat and mouse you’re after, The Hide deserves a place in your collection.
The Hide is based on Tim Whitnall’s stage play The Sociable Plover, he also wrote the screenplay for this movie adaptation. There are only two characters in the movie, but the sublime performances more than make up for the obvious lack of cast members. Alex MacQueen is particularly mesmerising as the put upon Roy Tunt. It’s a twitchy, bewitching performance that remains compulsive throughout. Phil Campbell’s David appears cold, calm and calculated by comparison, particularly in the early exchanges, successfully manipulating the eerie unease that threatens to consume them both. Dynamics change as the story unfolds and the actors are up to the challenge, conveying subtle shifts in emotion as the drama escalates and the dark truths begin to surface.
Losey makes the most of the Suffolk marshes, creating a bleak and gloomy atmosphere that more than matches the dank surroundings. Most of the movie is set inside the hide, with occasional glimpses of life outside. David suffers from disturbing flashbacks that hint at a troubled past, but most of the drama comes from the relationship that builds between the two protagonists. The slow start could prove distracting for some, but only if you’re not immediately drawn to the complexities and eccentricities of Roy Tunt. He’s a unique character to say the least, and Alex MacQueen has never been better, but The Hide prides itself on a drip feed of drama that wont appeal to audiences raised on fast paced thrills and Hollywood style tension.
When it does come, the twist is perhaps a little too obvious, but with only two characters to choose from, second-guessing the motivation behind the madness is a big part of the journey. The Hide remains enjoyable thanks to some wonderful wordplay and gripping exchanges. The final act is peppered with intelligent dialogue, smart one-liners and engrossing performances, culminating in a worthy conclusion that satisfies on every level. The tension that builds is undeniable, and the macabre humour that swims beneath the surface is expertly sold.
A two-man character piece set inside a Suffolk bird hide might not sound like the most thrilling of propositions, but looks can be deceiving. With strong performances and tension you can chew on, Marek Losey’s The Hide shouldn’t stay hidden for long.