The Hidden Face begins like most haunted house movies. A young couple move into a large country house and soon things start to go bump in the night. You’ve seen it all a million times before, but just as soon as you think that this Spanish language film (set in Colombia) has nothing new to offer, it takes a radical turn at the midway point by challenging the conventions of this stale genre. The turn means that The Hidden Face delivers a fresh new angle on the traditional ghost story; this grounds the tale in the real world and makes it strangely compelling viewing.
To say too much about The Hidden Face would ruin the film’s central premise, but rest assured that Andres Baiz’s film is worth watching. He comes close to losing his audience in the first 40 minutes, walking a steady and well known line that makes the film appear to be an impressively shot, if dull genre piece. The central performances are all solid and the audience is forced to question their allegiance to each character – and character is something that this usually cut and dried genre tends to disregard. Admittedly, there’s a pointless police investigation subplot that leads to a dead end, as well a plot contrivance between two characters that is just too neat. It smacks of lazy screenwriting, although it is used to get across one character’s central motivation.
It’s best to walk into The Hidden Face without knowing too much. Go in expecting a traditional ghost story and you will be surprised at how much you enjoy it.