1 Hr., 36 Mins.
The Hidden March 12, 2020
he villain of “The Hidden” (1987) is all id. It’s a slimy alien that has crash-landed on Earth for the sole purpose of taking over human bodies and using them to enjoy sinfully hedonistic earthly pursuits — sex, theft, and murder among them. It will use the host’s body until the host is too weak to continue hosting — which in most cases means that the host has been shot to death by the police following a long chase
because of the extremes to which the alien will go. “The Hidden” opens with a bank robbery, peppered by the killings of onlookers, then moves into a car chase that climaxes with a Bonnie & Clyde-style showdown. The perpetrator has no criminal record; he is unimaginatively described by those who knew him as nice — someone who kept to himself. At first I wasn’t moved by this since superbad real-life criminals are frequently described in similar terms before their arrest for a particularly heinous act(s). But then we learn that the perpetrator actually was nice and someone who kept to himself. It’s just that his body was taken over by the film’s alien villain. The freakiest of a thrill killer, if you ask me.
“The Hidden” is a standard-enough cop thriller though more so feels like the kind of old-fashioned chase movie American International Pictures used to make. It follows the investigation of Los Angeles detective Thomas Beck (Michael Nouri) and his assigned partner (clearly a heroic alien chasing after the villainous one), FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan). The movie, which is written with a pre-“X-Files”-like phantasmagoria by Bob Hunt, pretty much constitutes Beck and Gallagher trying to catch up with the antagonistic alien’s latest victim before it can move onto the next one. Unfortunately they can’t just shoot the alien dead. (And besides, a specialized unearthly gun is the only device that has an effect on it.) They must act as the alien is exposed, wriggling around en plein air between bodies. In the course of “The Hidden” the literally spineless beast will take over the limbs of a stripper (Claudia Christian), a middle-aged man with dangerously high cholesterol (William Boyett), a dog, a senator (John McCann), and others.
Little about “The Hidden” surprises — both alien reveals are, I think, meant to be looked at as plot twists, though it’s probable that most viewers will see them coming from more than a few miles away. But that, in a way, adds to the charm — this is an efficient and cleverly made genre movie meant to act as a cheap thrill without venturing out to be too much more than that. We have fun with it while it lasts; then we forget it.
For fans of “Twin Peaks” (1990-’91), on which MacLachlan would soon star, and of “The X-Files” (1993-2002), a viewing of “The Hidden” is especially worth pursuing: MacLachlan’s outré performance in the movie acts as a sort of prologue to his socially maladroit Agent Cooper, and the film’s rather seamless way of inserting the supernatural into otherwise routine cop-drama shenanigans is a nice preamble to the formula perfected by Chris Carter and company. “The Hidden” isn’t that great a movie, but a well-made thriller with a penchant for at least a little risk-taking has the power to soothe after a tiresome day. B