Bonnie and Clyde and Billy the Puppet
I love movies, but not all of them deserve reverence on first viewing. Some are meant to be watched in a crowd of snarky, bitching hipsters who've had way too much to drink. The other night, I learned that a dear friend, a Red Bull, and being awake for nearly twenty hours will also do in a pinch. This is how I experienced K.C. Bascombe's Hide--or as I like to call it, "my delicious K.C. masterpiece".
Ostensibly, the film is about two lovers/bank robbers named Billy and Betty (Christian Kane and Rachel Miner) who set out to find a stash of money that Billy hid before getting locked up seven years earlier. What it's really about, though, is Bascombe and screenwriter Greg Rosati's quest to prove that Tarantino rip-offs didn't die in the late 90s. The leads are a composite of Clarence and Alabama from True Romance and Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers, and we meet them in a diner scene lifted almost completely intact from Pulp Fiction.
As a decades-deep Tarantino fan, I totally dug this flagrant homage drenched in libertarian-criminal philosophy, served piping hot on a bed of awful Southern accents and bizarre acting choices. As if that wasn't enough, the filmmakers toss in a parallel story involving a sadistic kidnapper who strings his victims up in a Saw-like torture dungeon.
The effect is jarring: following the prologue, we find Billy and Betty in a cheap hotel, communicating in what amounts to a series of faux-deep monologues; I turned to my friend after what seemed liked fifteen minutes of this and asked, "Jesus, are we ever getting out of this room?" Sure enough, we soon cut to a dank basement, where a woman has been strung up, blindfolded, and made to plead for her life. A few seconds later, we're back with our ersatz heroes who, as I recall, were still making speeches.
Hide's utter lack of sense and consistency make it a blast to watch. The characters' road trip only ever finds them driving into abandoned towns with sketchy geography: their next hotel is located directly behind a creepy theme park, which happens to be near the kidnapper's lair--right down the road from where Billy hid the money. There are so many coincidences, left-field flashbacks, dream sequences, and instances of apparent teleportation, that watching the movie quickly becomes a marathon session of yelling incredulously at the screen and shooting confused looks at your fellow captives.
That's not to say the story is bad. No, no, no, no, no. It turns out Bascombe and Rosati have one more filmmaker to reference in their modest-budget, film-school-quality opus: Mr. M. Night Shyamalan. Hide's last couple minutes bring the head-scratching silliness of the previous ninety into focus. The twist is a real groaner, but I applaud its flawed genius: in the hands of a master telegrapher, the ending--and the entire film--could have been legendary. As executed, it's a semi-forgivable eye-roller.
One thing I can't forgive is the casting of Beth Grant. She plays a doomed waitress named Candy in a scene that perfectly represents Hitchcock's "bomb under the table" aphorism. In an instant, I was yanked from Hide's shit vortex and transplanted to a tense and emotionally satisfying exchange between Candy, who recognizes Billy from news reports of his previous heists, and Billy, who knows that Candy recognizes him. She can barely suppress her horror. And though we know things will end badly for her, Bascbombe, Rosati, and, most of all, Grant, make us believe that her fate isn't set--that maybe Billy will have mercy on this frightened, hard-working, innocent woman.
She ends up splattered against a wall, of course, and the movie continues on the road to nowhere. Determined to leave no bright spot untarnished, Rosati resurrects her character in a contrived, irredeemable fashion that's beneath even this movie.
But I guess letting Grant have her moment in the sun would have cast a harsher light on her co-stars. Kane does some fine, if inconsistent, work here. He sells both the crazed, hardened outlaw bit and the semi-reformed, reflective con routine, only occasionally slipping out of his Dixie-fried accent or offering up some Eric Freeman-worthy eyeball acting.
Miner is also fun to watch--or, more specifically, to listen to. Thanks to this movie, she will forever be "Bottle-Blonde Holly Hunter" in my heart. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the actress prepared for her role as a troubled Southerner strictly by listening to Patton Oswalt's stand-up routines about rednecks. I would suggest making a drinking game out of her frequent use of the word "Baby" (which comes out as "Bahaaay-beh"), but then you run the risk of passing out during the first hotel room scene--meaning you'd miss one of the best lines I've heard in any movie: "Fuck me like you've been in prison for seven years."
Hide is an ambitious, entertaining, engrossing good time, made by people with absolutely no clue how ridiculous they are. If you're into crowd-pleasing, landfill-ready garbage like The Room, Fair Game, and Never Cry Werewolf, add this one to your next party rotation. Whatever you do, don't watch it alone!