Hidden in Plain Sight is a terrible movie. It dutifully notches off every box on the bad movie checklist and then goes for extra credit. At least this is a film that doesn’t have higher aspirations so it’s an entertaining bad movie.
Katie (Victoria Barabas) has been living in fear for years. In an only in a Lifetime movie premise, Katie faked her death to get away from her abusive boyfriend Nick (Gino Anthony Pesi). Katie couldn’t be bothered to put much effort into it as she parks her car at a bridge, tosses her phone in the river and walks off with a suitcase. Nick doesn’t know Katie was pregnant and she’s raised their son, Danny (Jack Fisher), on her own for eight years.
But now Nick has resurfaced and harasses Katie’s mother (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) for some sort of clue that Katie is actually still alive. Meanwhile, Katie has just now started to get over her terror and entertaining the thought of starting a relationship with Lucas (Jake Allyn). While Lucas comes off a little creepy and desperate too, he’s not a stalker so he’s got one up on Nick.
The biggest problem, in an admittedly tight contest, is screenwriter Jed Seidel treating events that play out on screen like they’ve never happened before. You’ve gotta think Danny had some questions about his father before this very moment. Everything plays out too convenient and despite some clunky flashbacks the characters don’t feel like they’ve actually had lives before the movie starts.
In good movies there’s a feeling that the characters don’t start and stop when the credits begin and end. We’re catching a snapshot of their lives. Here, there’s no depth to the characters on any level and all of their development is strictly surface level.
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Seidel’s script doesn’t hold up to even basic logic. Nick has been in jail for most of the eight years since he last saw Katie. Would he really hold that ridiculous a torch for anyone? Their relationship never seems more than casual dating so it’s hard to buy he would be so possessed to track her down let alone doubt if she faked her death.
Katie doesn’t behave in the way someone on the run would act. She sits at home with the windows open for any stalker to see and she didn’t give Danny a cell phone. Also, Katie had no real incentive not to just go to the police, get a restraining order or buy a gun to protect herself. Faking her death is such a ridiculous solution that it makes Katie look more unstable than Nick. And there’s something laughable about Katie constantly forgetting she has to pick Danny up from school every day while she’s working as a waitress with apparently the most flexible hours ever.
My absolute favorite part is a scene where Katie is running from Nick despite wielding an axe. Typically in these films, the person is running from the person holding an axe, but do your thing Hidden in Plain Sight.
The acting is OK, but it’s hard to really judge them as there’s only so much they can do with this script. Director Stacia Crawford doesn’t do them any favors either with weird transitions and awkward flashbacks. Katie looks older in the flashbacks than she does nearly a decade later thanks to a terrible wig. Crawford didn’t have a huge budget to work with as there’s really only four locations used and only half of them work in the context of the film.
Some of the dialogue is hard to make out over the soundtrack although it could easily be the cast’s embarrassment over having to say those lines. It’s a toss up.
Hidden in Plain Sight is not a good movie, but it’s got the decency to warn you early on what you’re in for so you can either stop it or be amazed at its special level of incompetence. At least it gets that much right.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: MarVista Entertainment