Starring- Patrick Lazarra, Eric Stayberg, Anthony Fitzgerald, Britt Prentice
It’s always important to take into account when reviewing a very low budget horror flick, that as much as it can come off as amateurish and clearly suffering from budget limitations, that these films are made by people wanting to get there idea off the ground no matter what the cost. This is the case with THE HIDEOUT, which I will admit first, is not an entirely great film, and suffers from wanting to be something greater or bigger than it is, and having a zombie outbreak happening in a film will always stretch the budget and also the limits of originality, as the constant outpouring through straight to DVD and TV of the undead gut munchers, will certainly put some people off as a case of seen it all before.
THE HIDEOUT’s main plot focuses on Cole (Patrick Lazarra) who is coerced by head gangster Hatchet Harry (Britt Prentice) into doing a bank robbery guaranteed a large pay-day. Cole hires a group of criminals he knows, and also his girlfriend Charlie (Jadi Stuart) as a getaway driver. Once the deed has been done, the desperate gang make their getaway to the hideout, but it’s not long until they start noticing people turning crazy and attacking them, and before we can say zombie outbreak, the gang are caught up in their hideout, re-enacting a similar situation to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, all the while dealing with the distrust and greed that comes with most of these after-heist situations. As Cole says no honour among thieves and that becomes more evident while civilization falls apart around this group of criminals.
Admittedly the un-originality of the idea is evident, but kudos to Barnes and Moralez for at least trying to add a DUSK TILL DAWN esque element, which despite the films flash forward opening, goes into a crime/heist thriller, then springs into a zombie horror flick. They are at least trying to spring some originality into the premise, and the early scenes of head boss Hatchet Harry, about to torture some unlucky dope, with a heated coat hanger wire, does pique the viewers attention. In these opening scenes there is a decently paced plot going on and with its heist element it speeds on nicely, though it’s in the second eventual zombie attack part, that the film starts to degenerate into a bit of a mess, built around ropey effects and even ropier performances.
It’s unfortunate that some of the acting degenerates into amateur dramatic shouting and swearing constantly, with characters becoming increasingly annoying and only registering their performance on the level of shout and point gun, and then swear, much akin to seeing something in a student’s short film. Not that we come to horror flicks with the intention of seeing Oscar worthy acting, but the performances in this film soon start to grate.
Overall the zombies are of the fast running 28 DAYS LATER kind, and don’t have much make up on, whether this was due to budgetary constraints, as most of the effects are spent on computer generated gun firing flashes and computer generated blood splatter, which I always find an annoying and cheap cop out effect, not just in this but in many horror films and even THE WALKING DEAD, which probably has a bigger budget than this film. With all this going on and running at a short 76 minutes, THE HIDEOUT soon starts to stretch and drag itself out to it’s eventual conclusion, but again at least the makers set out to throw in a interesting if slightly daft twist ending, showing that among the amateurish acting and effects, there at least have some inventiveness in the story department and don’t resort to a simple boring ending.
In the long run, it would be wrong to completely trash the film, as in any of these low/no budget productions there’s always a spark of ingenuity or originality that somehow cuts through. No doubt this was probably a fun production for all involved, and the cast gave it their all, but in the end despite the final product looking and feeling not that great, I imagine that given a bigger budget and funds these directors will show that they can deliver something much more promising.