Hidden Secrets Reviews
That being said, let?s look at Hidden Secrets.
In this film-
Wait, Hidden Secrets? If something is a secret, then it's meant to stay hidden and if something is hidden then by its very status is is something hidden!
When the title of your film creates a potential feedback loop, you're in trouble.
A man named David has just died.
How did he die? Well, he died because Plot is a cruel cinematic goddess who demands fictional blood be spilled in her unholy name.
David's sister Sherry has to make arrangements for his burial and that includes calling his friends to gather for the event.
While the opening credits roll, we see various characters preparing for a funeral
CHARCTER ROLL CALL!
Jeremy (David A. R. White) is riding with???.
Rachel, his totally celibate girlfriend (Stacey Keanan)
Rhonda (Autumn Paul) who is both extremely pregnant and putting the finishing touches on her henpecked husband.....
Harold (Gregg Binkley) who is posing next to a life-sized cutout of himself holding a book that is in no way similar to Left Behind.
Anthony (Sean Sedgwick) is smoking in his car next to???
Sally (Rachel Lampa) his girlfriend who has to hide her shoulder tattoo (it leads exactly nowhere and is just eating up screen time).
And Michael (Coren Nemec) is sitting alone in his car staring at a plance ticket and sporting a slightly gayer haircut than everyone else. Wonder why?
Yes, this is a character-driven Christian movie. Consider yourself warned.
To be fair, whenever the characters have a philosophical or theological discussion, the film borders on watchable. But just when you find yourself ready to describe a scene as ?tolerable? the script will crack the whip and force the actors to do something comedic. And the results vary from ?terrible? to ?soul-crushing.?
And most of the soul-crushing comes from Rhonda.
Oh, I cannot do this review without discussing a witch called Rhonda. She?s meant to represent the judgmental, prideful, super Christian who drives people into Satan worship. Sometimes she?s gently abrasive ( like a sandpaper swipe against a naked eyeball) and other times she is so hyper-zealous that she leaps beyond Rude and blossoms into Abusive.
Rhonda and Gary (John Scheider) have a little verbal collision when she learns that he works in stem cell research. I don?t get enough manufactured drama reading X-Men comics, so moments like these warm my heart, just like spicy food.
Shocked, Rhonda runs back into the house and tells Sherry that Gary is no better than a murdering abortionist (and depending on whom you ask, that phrase sounds redundant). Going into Godly Overdrive, Rhonda almost shrieks that God?s judgment will fall on the place because of him and I can only imagine that her unborn child is trying to squeak out, ?Lady, this woman does not speak for me, I?m only along for the ride and the free food.?
Exasperated, Sherry forcefully reminds Rhonda that she just put her own brother in the ground so maybe they should talk about this later.
We have our First Moment Of True Entertainment in this movie!
Rhonda storms off, because compassion is something that happens to other Christians.
That entire sequence is just one (ONE) example of what we get from Rhonda. Every time she opens her mouth, a part of you will shrivel in fear because By The Audience This Movie Dumbs, Something Annoying This Way Comes.
Have no fear though, since the other characters are less hate-inducing but that doesn?t help.
Jeremy (who used to love Shelley) and Rachel are having relationship woes and the fact that Jeremy is forced to interact with Shelley isn?t helping.
Here?s an example:
The unhappy couple are having a disagreement (Look, until an object shatters against something or someone, I?m not calling it a fight) about how the ghost of Jeremy and Sherry?s relationship is hanging over them and choking off his ability to trust. I wouldn?t call her a shrieking harpy, more like a slightly chirping one.
Rachel and Jeremy work out an arrangement to share a bed but to pile up pillows between the two of them so that nothing happens.
The next morning, Rachel flirtingly reaches her hand through to wake Jeremy up, causing him to spastically Jack Tripper right off the bed.
Jeremy: Do you know how this looks?
Rachel: No, how does it look?
Pathetic? Unfunny? Moronic? Ridiculous? Exasperatingly overdone? Idiotic? Sweet Sauron, Make It Stop?
Brace yourselves, folks for we are about to witness The Worst Line Delivery Ever.
When Rachel asks how it looks, Jeremy flounders for an answer before moaning out, ?Wrooong!?
The line is forced out like a cement bowel movement but with none of the emotion and all the artificial radiance of a fading light bulb. It seems to reach out of the movie and remind you that this line was written, rehearsed, and carefully practiced but was never naturally uttered by a human being.
During a painfully long and uninteresting roofing montage, the guys start discussing why Jeremy and Sherry broke up. This is a good question: why can?t two blandly blonde people get along? Jeremy doesn?t know why she dumped him and the breakup did affect his faith. He admits to doing a few things he wasn?t proud of.
It?s okay, we don?t blame you for Second Glance.*
Later the gang prepare for a night out to a Fifties-themed restaurant known as the Red Car. Joy. But first, they have to dress appropriately and that means a...................SHOPPING MONTAGE!
All the ingredients are here: lame music that wants to be hip more than Elizabeth Berkeley wanted to be a dancer in Showgirls; characters putting on ridiculous outfits to remind us that bad fashion exists; said characters in said outfits performing sad dance moves; and even a slow motion walk entering and leaving the thrift store because people do that while shopping. Edit together in a single clip, set to Deep Hurting and voila! Your audience loses its appetite!
There are so many horrible non-moments that I can?t possibly recount them all here.
The actors all look embarrassed when they try to sound funny and bored otherwise. The only ones really trying are John Schneider as Gary the atheist and David A. R. White as Jeremy the?..guy.
Let?s tally this one up:
CLEVER TITLE: No frakking way.
DOES ANYONE DIE?: Not on camera.
DOES ANYTHING EXPLODE?: Nope.
BEST SCENE?: Well, there is one good moment when everyone is in The Red Car. Rhonda looks up at a waitress (insert your own joke her about how Rhonda is beneath everyone else) and notices a cross necklace and asks how a Christian can stand being in such a heathen place and the waitress? response?
?I was about to ask you the same thing.?
That is such a moment of subtle pwnage that every acid-tongued spinster on ETV paused mid-sip and said in unison, ?Props, darling.?
VERDICT: Two stars out of ten.
Hidden Secrets may be the best Christian movie I have ever seen.
...Before the euphoria wears off.
I don't mean that this film is more humorous than Facing the Giants, although it is spectacularly funny. When I say that, I obviously am not referring to the stabs at humor that the movie tries to throw in to keep things light - the "I hate my wife" scenes, the hi-larious fall off of the roof - but instead, I am referring to, well, pretty much every scene involving Rhonda (Autumn Paul). When Gary casually refers to his work in stem cell research, the entire tone of the scene seems to change; the music gets dark and mysterious while Rhonda's eyebrows lower and her lips form into a scornful sneer. "Embryonic stem cell research?" she asks, smoke streaming from her nostrils.
The movie smacks of cheesiness. A group of disconnected pals meet up again after many years when their mutual friend passes away. Their differences in beliefs and lifestyles make it difficult for the group to manage to stay together in one house over the long weekend, but the titular secrets that they all share also makes it difficult for them to leave. There's the hardcore Christian, Rhonda, who is always damning everybody around her to Hell for transgressions that seem minor to the sane people in the room. There's Gary, the hard-line atheist who questions everybody's wacky beliefs, but (because this is a Christian film) lets every confrontation end in a draw. Then there's a smattering of in-betweens, the unsure or those curiously confident in the liberties that person has taken with his or her own religious beliefs.
Oh, it's a bad movie. A stinker, for sure. There are several scenes that pop right into my mind when I think of how ridiculous the film was, and not just for the nonsense ideas enjoyed by most of the characters. There's a scene wherein star David A.R. White is supposedly singing, but the voice on the soundtrack is quite obviously not his (and the ghostly maracas being played are strange, too). There is strange guitar music accompanying a scene that definitely does not call for goofy guitar music... in fact, it called for something completely different. There's the tired cliches that regretfully pop up: the hardened atheist turned to Christianity by the word of GodtheJesusFatherGhost and the dispositions of the good Christians he comes in contact with, the romantic comedy couple who come together after a misunderstanding, and so on.
But what I liked about the movie, what surprised me after following the Kendrick/Christiano wave, was how... un-offended the movie was. The Christianos especially are famous for trying to drive whatever wedge they can between their little Christian cult and the rest of the world. They aim to create divisions by demonizing science, by villainizing nonbelievers, and so on. Whereas Hidden Secrets has a message that falls more along the lines of: "You can dance if you want to."
Yes, the movie is delightfully normal for a crazy Christian movie. The different factions throw out their lines, offensive the sensitive ears of those who feel differently than they do, and yet nobody blinks. They accept that other people disagree with their beliefs and don't take it personally. Of course, I am fairly annoyed with the fact that nobody took any time to think anything out critically (even the atheist/Jewish guy was a pretty rough sketch of an approximation of what an atheist/Jew might look like in real life). But that aside, I was impressed with the seeming commonsense approach that the movie took - one which says that you should focus on your own house instead of worrying about whether other people go out to clubs or drink or sleep in the same bed before getting married. Of course, I suppose the thinking for the Christian viewer could be something along the lines of "They'll get theirs in the end." But I saw it as a happy acceptance that not all people share the same beliefs. Again, I'm disappointed that the people in the movie refuse to examine themselves with a skeptical eye... but even the sensibility to admit that it's wrong to demonize stem cell research is a gigantic step in a positive direction from the Christian film genre.
Don't think I've gone mushy for the flick, though. I keep coming back to the sheer hilariousness that permeats so much of it. The weirdness that the filmmakers don't seem to be able to see from inside. I'm fully aware that I may not feel this strongly on a second viewing, but right now I am pretty excited about this strange little terrible gem.
And it's got Reginald VelJohnson in it!
The fact that Christians lead everyday lives and have flaws and past hurts just like the rest of the world.
About the importance of not judging others and not being legalistic to the point that you don't enjoy life.
It made me laugh...and cry lol to me that always makes a good movie :)
Hopefully it'll be just as much of a blessing to others!