The mysteries of the mind - what makes us who we eventually end up becoming. This is something that has baffled us enlightened folk for decades, forever even - and caused more arguments than if the chicken came before the egg. Nature Vs nurture, mental defects, or straight up PTSD are all on the table when it comes to such debates - but the truth is as simple as it is complex, we just don't know exactly what makes people do, or become, what they do or who they are. Modern medicine, including the medicine for the mind, may be getting closer but at the end of the day? It all comes down to interpretation - and using psychotherapy as a plot point for a film can be tricky. As the backing for a thriller no less, the stakes are even higher.
In this film, our leading lady Stevie is a psychoanalyst - and a damn good one at that. This is a woman we quickly learn has her shit together. Both at home and at work, but it has come at a cost. Early on we learn that Stevie didn't always have the perfect life, and has a hounding ex-husband as proof. But we're lulled into acceptance that the old Stevie is definitely not the new one, and it makes perfect sense that the path to perfection wasn't a smooth one. Most shrinks would agree, people learn from failure and pain. It's what drives us to do better.
After what appears to be a normal day, Stevie sets her sights on an uneventful weekend at home - and almost makes it. It's during the elevator ride, and subsequent malfunction, that she meets Jack. The two begin an idle conversation to pass the time in the non-responsive lift, the conversation is a little uneasy as Jack doesn't seem to want to open up all that much. Can't say I blame him, I wouldn't want to open up to a complete stranger either. But all is not as it seems and Jack is definitely not who he appears to be. Who is he? Glad you asked because Jack is on a mission of sorts - with one clear goal. To kill Stevie. Using all her skills as a psychoanalyst, including all her personal flourishes, Stevie must analyze and diagnose for her life - because that's exactly what's on the line. Along the way, we learn about her, and of course, about Jack. How does this dramatic thriller all turn out? You'll simply have to watch to find out.
As the credits rolled, I found myself a little unsure of what exactly I thought about this film - and what my personal rating should be. At worst, I was thinking a three and a half star review, but decided the four-star would be a more accurate rating. "The Place We Hide" is not perfect, and the first half of the film is a little slow moving - but when it picks up it really picks up. There's a real callback to old school filmmaking. Shots that seem to linger on a little, creating atmosphere, edits that feel almost casual - and then quickly to be replaced with lightning-fast cuts that really emphasize a certain scene or point. Erik Bernard's film remains focused on the story, even at the cost of what could be a more exciting pacing. It's what I call old school 101 and although some may be turned off by this, I appreciated the effort in creating a well-rounded world. Especially when a huge chunk of this film takes place in an elevator. I consider this style of movie-making to be the reason things start slow, but also the reason the third act is so damn good.
Also worth mentioning, that I really loved, was the sound design of this movie. Moody to say the least, but again, perfect for world and atmosphere building. Mix the audio with the stylistic flourishes of Stevie's tricks of the trade, and you end up with some very cool sequences. The idea to use audio stabs and quick edits to demonstrate Stevie's hypnotic tricks was done brilliantly. I thought so anyhow.
Now, I'm not going to go into extreme detail about the performances, but for the most part, things were handled very well. Occasionally, there was almost a clinical delivery of the dialog. Something I can't quite put my finger on, except to say it felt slightly off. However, because of Stevie's profession, and her situation, one could argue that's a good thing. A slightly clinical performance from a character that is... well... clinical. I feel Nikki M. Weiland played her role the same way Stevie would if she were a real person. One thing I can say for sure is that her interactions with Jack, played by David Yusel Madison, felt pretty on-point. These two people work well together, no question.
At the end of the day, "The Place We Hide" ended up being a great little diversion. The first half, mainly act one, did feel a little winded - but the payoff was well worth the wait. This was one of those films you put on, perhaps question your choice for a little tiny bit of the length, and then BAM! You're fully into it. What this is not, is a film for those who love blood, guts, and explosions every thirty seconds. This is a flick for those who appreciate some depth, and in my humble opinion, earns it's four stars.