Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Hidden Face

As mentioned in my previous review, I had a number of discussions about films at Greenbelt. One of these was with Jeremy Clarke, my film-critic friend from London with whom I have watched many an advance screening. Jeremy recommended that I watch a recent Colombian film called The Hidden Face, directed by Andi Baiz. He told me very little about it (THANK YOU, JEREMY!) but it was enough to spark my interest, so I picked up a copy and watched it last night (alone, in the dark, the way such films should be watched). 

I think The Hidden Face is my first Colombian film. I will be looking for more. While not a perfect film by any means, it nevertheless had me in its grip from the first second to the last. Indeed, the film was so intense and compelling that I barely remember reading a single subtitle. And the horrific plot was so well-structured that I barely noticed that the acting wasn’t very strong. Neither was the character development. The score and cinematography, however, were both top-notch.

What is The Hidden Face about? Well, now we are into pet peeve country. After watching the film, I took a look at the trailer and read the back of the DVD case. These were more horrifying to me than the film, by which I mean that they both gave away the key plot twist at the centre of this carefully-structured film. If I had known this twist in advance, the impact of the film on me would have been a tiny fraction of what it was. For a film described as “a haunting thriller” (a very apt description), this is a catastrophe of the highest order. If you have read any review of this film (other than this one), or read the back of the DVD case or have seen the trailer, then don’t bother watching the film. That’s how outrageous and inexcusable this blunder is to me. So not another word from me on what The Hidden Face is about, except to warn away all potential viewers who do not appreciate very dark haunting thrillers.

Well, okay, maybe I’ll say as much as Jeremy did: A man comes home one day to find that his girlfriend and all her belongings are gone. She left behind a video message indicating that she was returning to Spain, but the police say she never left the country and grow increasingly suspicious. Enough said!

With my last review in mind, I must say that I am much more forgiving of dark films than dark TV. The Hidden Face gets ***+. If you’re looking for an obscure foreign thriller you’ve never heard of, and don’t mind getting scared (or being horrified), then turn out the lights, lock your doors, cover your windows, curl up with your popcorn, and enjoy. Thanks, Jeremy. 

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