The Hidden (1987)
It’s TWIN PEAKS time! Even though that our favourite special agent isn’t his usual self, there’s always a bunch of performances out there where you can get that classic Kyle MacLachlan feeling, and THE HIDDEN will perfectly scratch that itch.
THE HIDDEN is so close to being a classic it hurts. A human cop (Michael Nouri, whom the director hated) and a piggybacking good alien cop (Kyle MacLachlan) team up to take down an intergalactic bad dude that loves rock ‘n roll and making trouble. The baddie slug parasite is the idea of the eighties, excess and nihilism, made flesh. It exists as an entity that only wants the best in life, right now, and will mow down anything that gets in its way. Jack Sholder’s direction (the man of Gay Freddy fame) has never been more stylish and the body hopping alien hook is great, but the film unfortunately never developed beyond its basic set-up.
There’s a weird pointlessness to all the action scenes in the THE HIDDEN.
They’re impressive executed, with an emphasis on bloody squibs and breaking glass, but they’re ineffective from a storytelling point. Agent Gallagher (played by Kyle MacLachlan) stands there stone faced as he pumps bullet after bullet into a stripper’s possessed body (Claudia Christian) until one of them falls over. It’s two bags of flesh being torn apart for a five minute stretch.
There’s no back and forth, no one gets the upper hand, and it only ends when someone decides it should end. Who am I kidding, though? I would have loved to see a mano-a-mano physical fight between the two aliens who can beat each other till there’s nothing left, but it sadly never came! It’s those kind of missing pieces that make THE HIDDEN unable to reach the greatness it could have.
MacLachlan, with his wooden features and clean cut demeanor is the perfect actor to portray an alien presence. His face has an almost Bressonian level of detachment when its in repose. Nouri does a gruff “I can’t believe it!” shtick that takes a little long to finally kick into gear. The film often had the pacing of a TV pilot that never got off the ground. At the last minute, they decided to slap a definite ending so they could package it for theatrical distribution. If you’re going to make a alien cop buddy comedy, you don’t need to spend half the running time following up clues to find the alien. Just get to the good stuff!
Which leads up to the head scratching finale.
****SPOILERS AHEAD**** I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take from the fact that Kyle MacLachlan takes over the body of his dead partner. Does he think his partners family will be happy with the fact that their dad is now someone completely different in a flesh suit they recognize? Don’t their host bodies degenerate? And what’s going on with his kid?
There’s an unrelated THE HIDDEN 2. I’ve never watched it, because it’s universally considered terrible.