The Place We Hide


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Place We Hide
"It's a great premise but it takes an experienced hand to keep this kind of thing on an even keel."

Being stuck in an elevator is frustrating at the best of times. It's orders of magnitude more difficult to deal with if you're claustrophobic, or if you're sharing that elevator with someone who has been sent to kill you.

The claustrophobia, thankfully, remains low key (it's about the only thing in this film that does) so our time is not wasted on watching somebody panic. It does put professional hitman Jack (David Yusel Madison) in an awkward position, however. Although he never says it directly, we get the impression that he's refraining from killing his companion, Stevie (Nikki M Weiland), partly because her presence is keeping him from panicking. As she explains to him, being stuck in a small space with a dead body would be much more unpleasant. She figures out his business pretty quickly because her professional skill lies in figuring people out - and in getting inside their heads. She has to get through to Jack quickly because if she doesn't, he'll kill her as soon as they get out of there.

It's a great premise but it takes an experienced hand to keep this kind of thing on an even keel. Erik Bernard is a newcomer to both acting and direction. His framing is not bad, maintaining a sense of energy in the limited space he has to work with, but he falls short when it comes to managing the actors. Madison is adequate, if not particularly inspired. Welland is pretty bad. To make matters worse, she's playing a character whom many viewers will find themselves wanting to kill after just 15 minutes.

Whilst we wait for Jack to hurry up and get on with his job, and whilst he pontificates about morality in a way no real life hitman would, Stevie works some kind of psychoanalytical magic, triggering flashbacks to his unhappy childhood. In response he, trying to justify his planned actions to himself, insists that she tell him her story. That either of them thinks they can sum up their 'story' in the short time they have is evidence of just how thinly drawn these characters are. Stevie, of course, has a dark secret, and she also reflects on her experience in an abusive relationship, but all of this is pretty generic. Beyond their function in the story, we don't really get a sense of who these people are.

Vincent Gillioz's sweeping score seems out of place; it belongs to a much bigger film. The Place We Hide makes some smart choices with its small budget and is far from the worst indie thriller out there, but it's not top floor material.

Reviewed on: 03 Dec 2020
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The Place We Hide packshot
A psychoanalyst is trapped in a lift with a man who was sent to kill her.

Director: Erik Bernard

Writer: Erik Bernard, Laura McLaughlin

Starring: Nikki M Weiland, David Yusel Madison

Year: 2020

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: US


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