Horror review: Hideaway

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 9, 1995

By Steve Newton

Before actually seeing Hideaway, I had mixed feelings about the potential of this Vancouver-made thriller. On the positive side, I was a big fan of both star Jeff Goldblum and the Dean R. Koontz novel on which the film is based. But I also knew how another of my favourite Koontz books, Watchers, had been filmed here and turned into a piece of crap. Then I heard that Koontz, after viewing Hideaway, had requested the filmmakers take his name off the project.

Not a good sign.

The flick starts off strongly enough. After murdering his mother and sister, young satanist Vassago (Jeremy Sisto) impales himself on a set of wickedly sharp shears. Through stunning computer-graphics sequences, the dead kid’s soul is shown being rebuffed at the crystalline entryway to heaven and sent careering through weird, shocking landscapes to the fiery pit of hell.

It’s quite a wild ride.

Shortly thereafter, following a nasty car accident, antiques dealer Hatch Harrison (Goldblum) has the same initial peaceful vision of nirvana, including the sight of his dead daughter joyfully beckoning him to join her, but before he can pass through heaven’s gate his soul is abruptly yanked away as he’s brought back to life by resuscitation expert Dr. Jonas Nyebern (Alfred Molina).

Soon we see that Harrison’s afterlife experience has psychically linked him with Vassago—whom Nyebern also resuscitated—and that during times of pain or stress, these opposing embodiments of good and evil can see through each other’s eyes. Vassago gets a load of Harrison’s beautiful teenage daughter, Regina (Alicia Silverstone), and instantly becomes obsessed with killing her.

This is when Hideaway starts to falter, because—unlike in the book—the motivation behind Vassago’s cruelty is never revealed. The threat of danger to Harrison’s last living child certainly gives Goldblum good cause to pull his trademark bug-eyed freak-outs, but it’s hard to believe that svelte pretty boy Vassago is evil incarnate, no matter how many gratuitous throat-cuttings he dishes out.

Black leather and sunglasses do not a scary guy make.

Besides its failure to generate real dread, Hideaway includes some embarrassingly corny bits that had audience members chuckling. Its computer-generated climax seemed hokey, too (shades of Children of the Corn). And only about 30 people at the packed premiere I attended actually hung around to see the trick jolt ending, a Carrie rip-off tossed in after the credits.

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