I’m going to continue the New Zealand theme this week with a review of the low budget independent feature film, Hidden, that came out in 2005. Though it was released in 2005, it was shot back in the winter of 2001 when the actors involved were unknowns and still students in their 3rd year of a Performing and Screen Arts degree at the Auckland Unitec. Jump to 2009 and most of them now have recognizable faces from Shortland Street and commercials, but back then they were all pretty much fresh faced.
Shot with a tiny budget of $7,000, the film is set in a fictional school camp out in the forests of Auckland. In reality it was filmed in and around different parts of Auckland and some scenes were filmed in Hamilton. With almost no crew, the film was written, directed and produced by Tim McLachlan, this being his debut feature film. As well as those roles he also co-edited, sound designed, sound mixed and was the cinematographer, not to mention stunt co-ordinator and a stunt performer on the film.
So with all those hats he had to wear on the film his nomination at the 2006 New Zealand Screen Awards for Best Contribution to a Digital Feature Film was very fitting. The film also went on to screen at 7 international film festivals and picked up a few awards including two Best Director awards in Toronto and Hollywood and a Best Film award in New York.
The film is a supernatural thriller with many ‘art house’ tendencies which can leave the viewer a bit bewildered and wondering what’s going on! Whilst often causing split opinion, those who ‘get’ the film really do ‘get it’ and love it. Without giving too much away about the plot I thought I’d throw up the synopsis for the film.
“Deep within a dark, twisted forest, at a faraway adventure camp, a group of young ‘camp leaders’ play a fast and furious game of ‘hide and seek’. The atmosphere is strange and thick with tension – there is a feeling in the air that all is not well. Alliances are formed; relationships are tested, and in some cases disintegrate to the point of violence. All the while they are being watched by someone… or something. In a spectacular climax, the mystery begins to unravel as everything becomes suddenly and painfully clear. The shocking, violent truth is far worse than could ever have been imagined…”
For those of you who don’t know me, I guess I should be honest right now and say that this film was the first feature film I produced along with Tim. But even though I’m biased I still love this film and many people who have seen it agree. If you haven’t yet seen Hidden I challenge you to do so and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think of it. Blatant self promotion but hey…it’s the only way a struggling filmmaker can get his work out into the world.
8 out of 10 from me!!!