When I think of thrillers, my mind immediately conjures cross-town chases, a city-wide chess game between hero and villain, and even a little cat-and-mouse in the protagonist’s home. In Erik H. Bernard and Laura McLaughlin’s The Place We Hide, the “chase” takes place within the confines of an elevator.
Stevie (Nikki M. Weiland) is a brilliant psychoanalyst and, by day’s end, is looking forward to a very long weekend after a full day of clients. As fate would have it, she finds herself stuck in her apartment’s elevator with a mysterious stranger, Jack (David Yusel Madison).
Jack says he’s there to visit a friend, but it becomes clear that he’s there for more nefarious reasons. Dr. Stevie quickly deduces that Jack is not who he says he is and gets him to confess that he’s a hitman and she is his next target.
The Place We Hide is a battle between brute and brains in a way. I like Mclaughlin’s story because of the battle of wits between the two leads and the similarities and differences between the characters’ plan of attack. The goals are simple: Dr. Stevie survives by “disarming” Jack as she digs into his past and finding any remaining speck of compassion.
“…gets him to confess that he’s a hitman and she is his next target.”
Jack, on the other hand, is in a position of power. He’s physically more assertive, and he’s got weapons and skills. The rub is now that Jack has made contact with his potential victim, it’s no longer killing a stranger, and he has to remind himself continually that Stevie deserves to die.
Dr. Stevie plans to find the source of Jack’s pain and discover the events that led him to become a hitman. Again, Jack is not stupid. He’s a highly trained hunter (of sorts). He’s been successfully tracking Stevie by understanding her daily behavior patterns, researching her secret past, and finding the best method to kill her. He just didn’t anticipate a faulty elevator.
When it comes to a recommendation, I’m caught between the film’s overall tone and its story. Regarding the story, I found the interplay between Dr. Stevie and Jack utterly fascinating. The two leads are experts at profiling either their clients or targets. They now use their similar and varied skills against one another. Their weapons are set as Stevie uses her psychoanalysis expertise, and Jack uses his hunter’s instincts and knowledge of the doctor’s secrets and questionable life choices.
My issue with the movie is tone. The opening sequence’s “comedic” acting from Dr. Stevie’s clients and the film’s score gave off this soap opera vibe and a tone that is too light for the story. It kept me from connecting with the characters to build proper sympathy and care about their journey. Connect properly, and the audience will invest themselves emotionally with the story’s outcome and ultimately elevate the movie to something greater than it is.
In the end, the story wins out, and The Place We Hide is worth watching. It’s an intriguing idea between two very different characters, and I enjoyed seeing it play out.
"…I found the interplay between Dr. Stevie and Jack utterly fascinating."