WARNING: contains mild spoilers. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
Anyone on at least nodding terms with classic horror films will be familiar with John Carpenter’s legendary 1978 slasher flick, Halloween. In it, a bunch of high school kids are terrorised and stabbed to pieces by Michael Myers, a giant and seemingly unkillable serial killer in a cheap-looking white mask. Perhaps the weirdest thing about this crazed murderer (one of many) was his slow prowling style. No matter how fast those lithe 17-year-olds ran away from him, the lumbering figure of Myers, his vision obscured by his clumsy papier-mâché mask, would never lose them. He’d stroll robotically along at a snail’s pace, yet constantly be on their tails. It was all very odd.
Why are we rambling on about some 40-year-old horror movie in a review of a BBC Wales crime drama? Well, there’s (some) method in our madness. Watching BBC Four’s new crimer Hidden brings the film to mind – at least when Rhodri Meilir’s Dylan Harris is on screen, anyway. The Hinterland actor plays creepy well. Really well. As the main antagonist of this eight-part serial he looms and skulks around almost constantly, only stopping to follow women and kidnap them. All done at an unbelievably slow pace.
Harris’ languid stalking and generally unsettling behaviour is representative of Hidden on a larger scale: slow, creepy and deliberate. But unlike the damaged killer at its core, the programme is much more confident. Dylan Harris’ sedate movements stem from his shattered personality, Hidden’s unrushed style stems from assurance.
A lot of TV crime dramas throw everything they can get their hands on at the viewers. Blood, gore, red herrings, shocks, unnecessary fights and screeching car chases. A showy and whizz-bang approach that often comes across as panicky and demonstrative of a lack of faith in the writing and storyline. No so with Hidden. Even the lead detective is a charmingly normal and down-to-earth woman. DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) isn’t battling alcoholism or mourning a dead husband or murdered child. She squabbles with her sister and helps care for her dying father, but there’s a realism there. Her troubles are everyday and relatable – and that’s quite refreshing.
Darker family dynamics can be seen in the Harris household, though. Dylan, being a serial killer, isn’t exactly a nice chap. But nor is he a cardboard cutout ‘evil murderer’ type. He’s a child in a man’s body, belittled and abused constantly by his domineering mother, he seeks solace and comfort of the women he bundles into his truck.
He’s no Hannibal Lector-esque criminal mastermind, though. In this second episode we see him botch a snatching as he follows and ultimately fails to get hold of already-being-stalked-by-another-bloke Lowri Driscoll. Will he try again later? Or give up and target another young woman? If it’s the latter, then our money’s on self-harming Megan Ruddock. Yet to fit into the story, we can see the doe-eyed uni student breaking bad and making a surprisingly formidable hostage.
Cadi and her partner DI Owen Vaughan were hitting the street heavily in this second outing, interviewing the murdered girl’s dirtbag ex-boyfriend and generally doing their barking-up-the-wrong-tree due diligence. Will any of these peripheral characters slot into the overall plot in any meaningful way, given we know the killer so early on? We’ll have to wait and see.
It’s been a slow but steady start for Hidden. We enjoyed the opening outing and can’t say that episode 2 disappointed in any way. In fact, we’re looking forward to seeing Cadi chase down Dylan Harris in the next six instalments. Not that she’ll have to run very fast, of course.
Did you catch Craith/Hidden episode 2? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below!