Friday, March 27, 2015

Goldblum Fest: A Supernatural Effect in "Hideaway"

Hatchford Harrison's world was shattered in one quick moment when his youngest daughter, Sam, was hit by a car while she was riding her bike. Now he, his wife Lindsey, and his surviving daughter, Regina, are trying to piece their lives together again, one day at a time. It doesn't come easy. Regina is in that rebellious teenager phase and he's lucky if he knows where she is half the time. And then it happens. On a drive back from a mini-vacation in the mountains, a trucker falls asleep at the wheel, sends Hatch's vehicle spinning out of control and they plunge off the side of the road. Shoved to safety, Regina watches the car with her parents careen down the embankment to the freezing waters of a river far below.

Technically, this should be the end of the story. It's not. Dr. Jonas Nyebern specializes in reanimation within reason, and Hatch's condition, hypothermia for one thing, is ideal for an attempt to save the man's life. The attempt works and Hatch is revived, to the giddy relief of his wife and daughter. The only problem now is that Hatch is hallucinating. Not just any hallucinations, but ones of violent acts . . . murder, blood, and insanity. At first he think he either murders during these black-out periods or that he's going crazy. Neither is the case. Instead, Hatch is seeing through the eyes of a serial killer. The downside? The killer, a young lunatic named Vassago, can also see through Hatch's eyes.

The story is a little complicated so I wanted to give at least a bit of a summary before I even attempted to dissect anything meaningful from the plot.

First of all, I didn't want to make the same mistake that I made with my By the Pricking of My Thumbs: The Trouble with Tommy post for the Anthony Andrews blog hop that I hosted last year. Meaning, I didn't actually read the book and simply went off the Miss Marple television episode. Not a good idea since the book itself surpasses the episode in every way possible.

No, I did not want to repeat my lack of insight with Hideaway. It's a good thing too, because I can honestly say that apart from Jeff Goldblum (who is pretty darn amazing as Hatch), the film adaptation of Hideaway is pure rubbish. Oh, it's entertaining enough . . . if you haven't read Koontz's novel. I have, although I did watch the film first, and I must agree with the author that the film makes a shambles of his brilliant and profound story. Which is really a shame because they could have done the film right, but they didn't. The one supporter Koontz had in creating an accurate screenplay was unceremoniously sacked from the production company, leaving Koontz without an ally, hence the much-hated Hideaway adaptation. The fans really deserved so much more.

That aside, however, I still like the movie, despite itself.

Hatchford is an intriguing character. He's an antiques dealer with his own little shop in a quiet little town in California. An involved family man, it shattered him that he could not save his youngest daughter, Sam. He remembers, quite distinctly, watching her ride past him on her bike as he's washing the car. Something doesn't feel right to him. He looks back towards the garage and spots his daughter's helmet, lying on the pavement. Turning around, either to call to her or for some other purpose, Hatch is the sole witness to Sam's death. There is literally nothing he can do to save her.

When these visions start happening, Hatch is more than a little terrified. During one particular vision, Hatch spots Regina, at a nightclub where she is most definitely not supposed to be. The only reason he sees her is because Vassago sees her too. The helplessness washing over him is entirely too reminiscent of Sam's death, and Hatch's entire focus becomes protecting his family. Whereas he failed to protect Sam, he cannot fail allow himself to fail again.

Hatch is trying to control an almost uncontrollable situation. No one will believes that he's seeing through the eyes of a maniac. His wife is panicked over this sudden paranoia her husband is exhibiting and his daughter is pulling even farther away because he's cracking down on her even harder. Hatch is trying to maintain control and keep the status quo.

Doesn't that sound like us? People love to control things, situations, life, education, family. Anything and everything in our lives, we think we can maintain control over. Hatch learns the hard way that control is as fleeting as the wind, there one second and gone the next. Which means it's actually just an illusion. Imagine hang-gliding and the wind just stops? Not a fun picture and suddenly the control we exert over nature is gone. Hatch is experiencing that place without wind.

In the end, Hatch himself can't beat Vassago. The power has to come from someplace outside himself. The novel and film differ in how this external presence is presented and in what form, but the message still gets across that man cannot save himself. I know it, have known it for years, and it was refreshing and indeed, exciting to see such a renowned, and suitably so, author as Dean Koontz acknowledge the fact to all his readers.

The book is actually far more Christian than the film. In the movie, Hatch goes to a medium seeking answers. She reads his palm, does a taro reading, etc. All sorts of fairly creepy stuff that made me feel like I was watching an episode of Supernatural all of a sudden. In the book, Hatch never goes to a medium. In fact, there is a strong Catholic/Protestant influence throughout the novel that really resonated with me. I wish they'd kept more of that influence in the film, and I suspect they would have had Koontz gotten his way and they'd actually used the screenplay he had approved instead of this one.

This is a story, in both novel and film, of supernatural evil battling good. What I loved most is how Koontz doesn't just leave his audience hanging. We're not left with a desolate sense of depression and fear because evil wins. He is not Stephen King. No, by his own admission, Koontz adds in the good guys to counteract the darkness because you can't have dark without light, and in the end, the light has to win. At least for him, and at least for me. If you get a chance, track down the movie. If you're interested, read the book. I just recommend watching the film first and reading the book second. You'll be less inclined to dislike the movie that way.


  1. This is a terrible, terrible film... but as I'm reading the book, I'm curious about watching it a second time just to note all the changes. I think it's a shame that the film was not better, considering it had a decent cast. Tighten it up, change directors, us a little girl as Regina as intended, and it could have been very good. WHY all the changes? WHY??

    1. I know, it's pretty bad. I think, if you ever do rewatch the movie, you'll find that just about everything is changed. Except for the car in the river. They kept that the same! I'm thinkin the production company just wanted things their own way and they wanted to go the horror film route without any of the elegance and spiritual nuances that Koontz developed. I wouldn't have cast it any differently, apart from Regina (who cares if Goldblum is 8 inches taller than the character?), but they should have kept the script already written and Koontz approved. Who knows why Hollywood makes crappy decisions.

    2. Just taking out the stupid 90's CGI heaven would have helped the cheese factor a lot.

      The problem with turning it into a horror film is ... it wasn't even a good horror film. It was a B-grade, cheesy horror film!

      Remind me, if I am ever a famous author, not to sell my rights to any studio without provisos. Rowling's attorneys were smart. They did it right. Koontz' agents were dumb. They did it wrong.

    3. I think that's what fans hate the most, the crappy CGI.

      No worries. I will stop you from selling rights to your books to anyone without going over the fine print with a magnifying glass and an ESTJ to tell you about any loopholes.

    4. Haha!

      I will only sell it to HBO. And in that instance, the provisos will have to be no sex or nudity rather than me worrying about them butchering my script. HBO seems to do high quality stuff, overall.

  2. I remember when this movie came out -- two of my best friends were in loooooooove with Jeremy Sisto, and they watched this movie a lot. I never did, because it sounded too scary for me, but now it sounds rather intriguing.

    1. Yeah, I heard that a lot of people who watched the film were either Alicia Silverstone or Jeremy Sisto fans. Honestly, if Goldblum wasn't in it, I would never have bothered. As Charity said, it's a pretty terrible film. The plot is interesting, but it's even more interesting the way that Koontz actually wrote it. The movie changed too much of it which is why people hate it. So sad!


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