By Ian Watson (Wales)
Before Dean Koontz achieved creative control over adaptations of his novels, viewers were left in slack-jawed silence by the sight of Scrabble-playing canines (Watchers) and nymphomaniac morticians (Whispers), making you wonder how bad a film based on his work would have to be for him to take his name off it. So desperate was the author not to be associated with Hideaway that he paid more in arbitration fees than he received for the movie rights, leading us to expect a coiled and steaming mess of Exorcist II-sized proportions. This isn’t, but it’s in that ballpark.
What’s the last thing you want to hear after a near-fatal car wreck? How about Dr Alfred Molina informing you he has literally raised your husband from the dead thanks to “a very special resuscitative process” and that he may now “seem a bit different”? Given that the husband is played by Jeff Goldblum “different” is a relative term, though he now possesses the ability to slip down CGI wormholes and communicate with his late daughter (at least, we think it’s his daughter – she’s naked and keeps asking him to “come with me”). The wormhole also allows Jeff to experience vicariously the crimes of teenage psycho Jeremy Sisto, which of course the cops don’t believe for a second. “Next time you have a gut feeling,” says one helpful officer, “try Alka Seltzer.”
We know Something Bad has happened because Sisto should be in the morgue, having offed himself before the opening credits, but instead he became a guinea pig in dad Molina’s resuscitative trials, which is just bad parenting. Disguising himself as a blind man in order to obtain Goldblum’s address (why not?), the pinhead blows the ruse by saying “I will see myself to the door”, which we don’t think was intended to be funny, but you never know. Arriving chez Goldblum, he’s met by wife Christine Lahti who, in a scene doubtless familiar to the novel’s devotees, ends up putting the boot to him while screaming “You skinny little f**k!” However, the novel hasn’t been well and truly trashed until Sisto and Goldblum transform themselves into levitating CGI angels (one red, one blue) for their climactic battle in an abandoned amusement park. Again, one for devotees.
If nothing else, director Brett Leonard gets to show off the flashy computer generated effects he developed for The Lawnmower Man (1992), an adaptation so bad Stephen King ended up taking his name off it (are you sensing a pattern?). Anyone who saw that effort will know what to expect from Hideaway: a senseless, dumbed-down mess, but it’s also fun in a shoddy, low-rent, stupid train-wreck sort of fashion. Unless you liked the book.