Not just because they gave us Nirvana; not just because they gave us the Spice Girls, The Matrix, Friends, neopets, ER, Alanis Morissette, Sailor Moon, bat nipples. No, God bless the 90’s for their beautiful, beautiful CGI.
A few days ago, the friends and I gathered to watch/gently mock a little movie called Hideaway. Hideaway is, on the whole, pretty average–some good stuff, some bad stuff–but there is nothing average about the CGI. The CGI is made of awesome. And by awesome, I, of course, mean epic fail. Sadly, I could not find a picture of it anywhere on the internet to demonstrate the depths of my hilarity, but the picture of The Lawnmower Man above is a pretty good representation, especially considering that both films were directed by the same man, a Mr. Brett Leonard.
God bless you too, Brett.
For the full review of Hideway, click the little link.
*As always, spoilers are towards the end of the review in the clearly marked Spoiler Section. Stay above the Spoiler Lines, and you will not be spoiled for the end of the film.*
Hideaway is about a guy named Hatch Harrison (Jeff Goldblum) who is resuscitated after he and his family are in a pretty horrific car accident. Once Dr. Alfred Molina brings him back from the dead, Hatch starts having nightmares and visions of killing young women, including his daughter. Hatch tries to convince everyone that he’s somehow formed a connection to the man who’s really murdering the girls, Vassago (Jeremy Sisto). Unfortunately, no one really believes him, since Hatch usually tries to do this by ranting like a CRAZY person. Also, even more unfortunately, Vassago is also aware of the connection between the two of them, and he uses it to target, you guessed it, Hatch’s family.
While trying to decide how to best sum up my feelings on Hideaway, I glanced around at other people’s reviews, seeing what they thought of the 90’s flick. You’ll be saddened, I’m sure, to find out that Rotten Tomatoes gives Hideaway a paltry 17%, which I thought was a little cold, considering. I mean, good God. Even Dead Birds got a 57%, and that had to have been one of the dullest horror movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
This is what Roger Ebert had to say about Hideaway:
“Look, I’m not saying this is a great movie, or even a distinguished one. I’m saying: You want horror, you want psychic abandon, you want Rae Dawn Chong reading Jeff Goldblum’s Tarot cards and not liking what she sees, you see this movie, you get your money’s worth.”
Thanks, Ebert. That’s, like, the best summary I’ve ever heard.
1.) Hideaway is based off a Dean Koontz novel that I read, like, twelve years ago. Apparently, Koontz was so disgusted with the film that he tried to get his name taken off of it. I’m not sure what he was so upset about. I mean, yeah, there are definitely differences: in the book, Regina is a girl the Harrison’s are trying to adopt, I believe, whereas in the movie she is their actual birth daughter and, also, Alicia Silverstone. Also, I think most of the supernatural elements—namely, the existence of the afterlife, angels, and demons—are much more ambiguous in the book, at least until the end. In the movie, those things are pretty much there from the get-go . . . seriously, you MUST watch this movie, for the CGI depiction of Hell alone. Please. Please. I beg of you. It’s hilarious.
Anyway, yes, there are differences, but this movie is a billion times the adaptation that Watchers is, and I could only stomach the first ten minutes of Watchers before I had to run away somewhere. The Dean Koontz novel’s main hero is 30-something, possibly an ex-soldier, and definitely suicidal. Oh, and he falls in love with a woman named Nora. The movie version? The hero’s suddenly a whiny 16 year old Corey Haim whose mother is named Nora. I mean, ew. That’s just fucked up.
2.) Of course, there are many wrong and fucked up things to talk about here. Let’s get blue CGI Heaven out of the way first. Cause . . . okay, I’m not sure if everyone took it this way, but . . . Hatch dies and is all immersed in blue glowy light, and he sees his youngest daughter, Samantha. Samantha is all innocent and happy and pure, and as such, she is naked. Mr. Goldblum . . . well, I think he’s going for wonder here, you know, disbelief and amazement and just awe at seeing his daughter again. . . but I gotta tell you, the mildly slack-jawed expression on his face as he’s staring at his little naked daughter giggling and floating around . . . my mind went to much creepier and darker places. I’m just throwing that out there.
3.) For scenes that do work well . . . I must say, the opening scene is pretty creepy. It’s actually the creepiest thing in the whole movie, I think, just because the reveal, such as it is, is pretty artfully done. Also, Jeremy Sisto is so young and weirdly pristine looking in the first five minutes. I was fixated on his ridiculously sculpted hair, while my sister was focused on his ridiculously sculpted eyebrows. He kind of looks like an entirely different person, although this does devolve later into wilder hair, darker clothes, dark sunglasses, and maniacal laughter. If I’d seen this movie ten years ago, I probably would’ve had a massive crush on him.
It’s like a cross between JD from Heathers and Neo from The Matrix.
4.) Of course, the fact that Neo JD is also a hard-core Satanist might have been a downer. Psychopathic, I can deal with, but Satanism? I don’t get Satanism. Do you really want the Devil to raise Hell on Earth? I mean, what’s the fun in that? Anarchy sounds good on paper, but wouldn’t the apocalypse just get boring after awhile? Besides, Our Lord God Satan is also called The Father of Lies for a reason. I mean, you have to know he’s going to ignore whatever pact you’ve made and stab you in the back whenever it’s convenient for him, right? Cause, like, he’s evil? Isn’t that the whole point?
5.) As far as acting goes . . . it’s, you know, okay. Alicia Silverstone is perfectly serviceable as a useless teenager who’s only real purpose is to be blonde, bitch when necessary, and squeal whenever she’s in danger. Christine Lahti and Jeff Goldblum make for a pretty convincing married couple, although Lahti certainly has less to do once Hatch really gets into his whole “why-doesn’t-anyone-believe-me-when-I’m-acting-like-a-psychopath” routine. I like her best when she’s in the river, grunting as she’s trying to swim to freedom and keep her nine foot tall husband from drowning at the same time. I mean, she doesn’t make that look pretty. It looks like work, as it should.
Goldblum . . . Goldblum has his moments. There are some actors who are really on in certain films and really off in other ones. Jeff Goldblum seems to do that within the film. On one hand, I really didn’t like his performance in the Blue Glowy Heaven Sequence, and often I find him a little too bug-eyed in the movie, like he’s trying to overcompensate for the mediocre script. On the other hand, I adore the moment he sees his wife for the first time after he’s resuscitated. She’s trying not to have a nervous breakdown, and he just looks up at her and asks, “Now, was I supposed to turn into the skid?” Perfect delivery.
As far as Dr. Alfred Molina goes . . . his role is mostly to look away and glower in a secretive, worried manner at a wall before quickly turning back and reassuring whoever he’s talking to that that “everything’s just fine.” Like Alicia, he is perfectly serviceable.
Oh, and Rae Dawn Chong? I must admit, I am seriously lacking in my Rae Dawn Chong movie knowledge. It’s sad, and I will have to work on that. In this film, however, it’s pretty much just like Ebert said: she reads Tarot cards and doesn’t like what she sees. She does fine at that.
6.) Hmm. Here’s a double feature to try out sometime: Hideaway, where Jeremy Sisto tries to kill Alicia Silverstone and make her apart of his corpse-littered artwork, and Clueless, where Jeremy Sisto tries to woo, then attack, Alicia Silverstone in his car. I’m thinking they have a complicated relationship.
7.) My favorite character in the whole film is Regina’ s friend, Linda. Linda has probably a combined total of 45 seconds screen time, but that’s enough for me. See, at one point, Vassago comes up to Regina in a bar and hits on her in pretty much the creepiest manner possible. (“I know where you do belong. Let me take you somewhere. Make you feel . . . make me feel . . . something. Ugh.) Anyway, Regina stands there like the retarded deer that she is, mesmerized by Vassago’s pretty face and bad poetry, I guess.
Linda then emerges, more or less telling Vassago to piss off. He hovers there for a minute, like he might not piss off because he’s evil and he doesn’t WANNA . . . except then he totally does. Regina decides to get super huffy about it (“What’s the deal? You said he was cute”) and Linda essentially tells her to grow a brain because Vassago’s obviously a creep who wanted to steal her away, rape her, and then decorate his apartment with her insides. (I think what she actually says is, “God, Regina, get some sense,” but the subtext is clearly there. Linda is awesome.)
8.) Less awesome? The music. Whoever did the score should be shot, or at least punched hard in the nose. That scene I mentioned where Christine Lahti is trying to swim with Jeff Goldblum’s twelve feet of dead weight? It’s a tense scene, or could’ve been, if the melodramatic music hadn’t swelled to biblical proportions to let us know that that what we were watching was very, very intense. Soundtrack people: cues are great and all, but your films are always infinitely better when you don’t treat your audiences like morons. Thanks.
9.) If it wasn’t already clear that I’m something of a twisted bastard, I must mention that I was a little disappointed with Vassago’s “artwork.” I mean, posing dead bodies in modernist structures is all well and good, but where’s the balance, the aesthetics, the theme? There was artistic vision in Vassago’s first piece in the very beginning of the film. I was just kind of bored with his corpse “masterpiece” later on.
10.) Finally, on the myriad of ways that I would not choose to kill myself: falling on a knife. I mean, why? Can’t you sacrifice yourself in some less painful way? After all, the end result is pretty much the same.
Okay, kids. Spoiler Section is up next. If you don’t want to know exactly who Vassago kills or if Hatch is able to stop him, read no further. If you’ve seen the film or unconcerned about being spoiled for a movie from 1995 with a 17% Rotten Tomatoes reading, by all means, carry on:
So, I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a lot longer than it should’ve to understand exactly what was happening. See, in the beginning scene, Vassago kills his mother and sister before offing himself. Daddy . . . who remains unseen; gee wonder if that’s important . . . finds them all. Not a swell day for him.
We then go to the Harrison’s, who are also a somewhat unhappy family because young Samantha was run over on her bicycle. Later, a car accident happens, and Dr. Alfred Molina brings Hatch back to life, even with the lady doc asking if he’s sure that’s the best plan, you know, with what happened to the last one that he brought back. Ominous words in the medical world. Of course, Dr. Alfred Molina is sure, because he’s a doctor, and you know what crazy irresponsible fuckwits they are. Hatch comes back to life and promptly starts sharing his magical connection with murderous Vassago, despite the fact that Vassago’s supposed to be dead and all.
This proved to be a point of confusion for me, since most dead people don’t usually waste time flirting badly in clubs and murdering young girls and making shitty sculpture artwork out of them. Of course, there’s an obvious answer: Dr. Alfred Molina (who, shockingly, SHOCKINGLY is also Vassago’s daddy) came home, found his psychotic, Satanist son dead, and brought him back to life . . . great plan, as Vassago naturally runs off and starts murdering more young women, as one is wont to do when one is a psychopath. (Admittedly, this wasn’t Dr. Alfred Molina’s brightest idea, but I guess when you lose everyone you love in under five minutes, you take what you can get, even if what you can get is your evil child who’s responsible for murdering your wife and perfectly normal child in the first place. Another movie with a similar theme: Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween.)
Anyway, I got that Dr. Alfred Molina was Daddy, and I got that Vassago had been brought back to life, but for some reason, I was hung up on the idea that Vassago (or Jeremy, as he had once been christened) had gone crazy and Satan-happy after he had been brought back to life. I think it was that “remember what happened to the last one” line that did it. To me, that spoke of someone coming back wrong instead of just coming back the same fucked up Satanist that he was before . . . and now that I think about it, why did the lady doc even voice that concern? Did she look at Jeff Goldblum’s fourteen foot body and just think, Wow, he looks like a crazy person. Maybe the world’s better off with him dead?
Regardless, it should not have taken me as long as it did to figure out what the hell was happening, but hey, we’ve all been there. We have our, Take That World! I TOTALLY Called That Plot Twist Moments, as well as our Well, Shit, How Did I Miss THAT moments. Clearly, this was one of the latter. Oh well.
So, the movie . . . ah, yes. Hatch endangers everyone he meets by cleverly looking at the home and businesses addresses of anyone he speaks to (which means Vassago can see where these people live and work as well). You’d think he might try to warn these people or something, but Hatch usually prefers to bug his eyes out and run away somewhere. Not that all the blame can be laid upon him. Rae Dawn Chong plays the Tarot Card Reader (she probably has a name, but I’m too lazy to imdb it at the moment) and she senses that Vassago is watching her behind Jeff Goldblum’s eyes. Of course, the appropriate response to realizing that a murderous psycho knows what you look like is to take that vacation to Hawaii that you’ve been meaning to go on for a couple of years now. Rae Dawn Chong, instead, chooses to to sit in her house like a scared rabbit and wait to be murdered. I don’t really feel a lot of sympathy for her when she’s killed.
Vassago also follows his soul connection with Hatch and attacks the elderly lady who works at the Harrison’s antique shop. To her credit, the lady recognizes that something’s totally up with this supposedly blind guy harassing her for Hatch’s phone number, and she pretends to write one down, protecting her boss and hopefully getting an Employee of the Month picture on the wall. Then again, when Vassago excuses himself to tinkle, the woman fails to excuse herself out the front door. She doesn’t get killed for this, I don’t think, but she probably should have.
Vassago takes the information he finds at the antique shop and uses it to kidnap Regina. Hatch and Lindsey follow him to his “hideaway” (there was a debate on what hideaway referred to, as the word is never once is used in the movie, but in the novel, at least, hideaway refers to the spot where Vassago likes to hide away his pretty corpses. I thought it referred to something more metaphysical, like the spot where the angel was hiding away in Hatch’s brain . . . we’ll get there . . . but nope. Just the corpse sculpture.) Dr. Alfred Molina also ends up at the hideaway, having received an invitation and a dead PI in his fridge, but Vassago decides that spending quality time with Daddy doesn’t sound nearly as fun as spending quality time with pretty Regina, so he just kills Dr. Alfred Molina instead. Poor Daddy. Doesn’t even get to be a part of the artwork.
Lindsey helpfully gets herself kidnapped as well, so it’s up to Hatch to face off with Vassago. They fight as mortals for awhile, until Vassago decides to release the demon within. Yes, literally. A red CGI monster dude comes out and floats above his head. Hatch (who thankfully knows that he has to “let go”—thanks Rae Dawn Chong and your psychic babble) releases the angel within . . . and yes, that’s blue, glowy Samantha. Bad CGI battles above while less CGI Hatch and Vassago continue to battle below. I can not properly describe to you the hilarity of this scene, although I should point out that with an amazing script and much better graphics, this could have been kind of epically cool instead of . . . well . . . funny.
Finally, Hatch impales Vassago on his own artwork, and he, Regina, and Lindsey all stagger to freedom. The End? Almost. After the credits, Dr. “Maybe We Shouldn’t Do This After Last Time” brings Vassago back to life AGAIN, where he promptly starts slicing apart his surgeons with a nearby scalpel . . . like, that’s gratitude for you, ASS . . . and then Hatch wakes up violently, and you think it’s going to end there with a big, oh noes . . .
. . . but instead Hatch turns to Lindsey and laughs that it was just a nightmare. He then delivers my favorite line of the entire film: “This is just like the end scene in Carrie” and the two of them continue their little cute little movie association game that they’ve been doing throughout the entire film.
Hideaway . . . a so-so movie, probably a B-, nothing too special . . . but that clip-on end scene, man. I think that’s my favorite after-the-credits bit EVER.
Moral of the Story: Just because you can bring back your psychopathic, kin-killing, Satanist son doesn’t mean you actually should . . . you grief-struck twit.