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All Things Hidden (2013)
Tonight's Short Presentation

ALL THINGS HIDDEN (2013)

Starring: Carollani Sandberg, Zoe Christie, Julianne Christie, Ben Andrews, Trin Miller, Gabriel Sedgemore

Written By: Persephone Vandegrift Directed By: Sean Avichouser

See It Here: (Currently Making Festival Runs)


The Story

Dannie (Carollani Sandberg, All My Presidents) is in the kitchen with her Significant Other (Gabriel Sedgemore, Causality).  She’s pregnant, and they’re discussing baby names.  The possibility of naming the baby after her father comes up.  Dannie panics and locks herself in the bathroom.  She’s always avoided discussing her family, and the suggestion, especially in a context relating to a child…

A moment passes.  Dannie storms out.  She won’t say where she’s going, only that she has to go alone.  The time has come for her to revisit the demons of the past, and maybe, just maybe to exorcise them…  Perhaps on the wings of a butterfly…


The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEDDAR.

It couldn’t be anything less.


Pairs Well With...

GUINNESS.

Simply because I’m certain that the screenwriter has a preference for it, and she deserves a toast.


“This is your chance.  Take it.”


Why?  Why does anyone stay in an abusive relationship?  Why does anyone, given the window of opportunity to escape, come back?  Leaving seems like a no-brainer to people not actually in such a relationship, but when it’s happening to you, it turns out that there are no easy answers… though many filmmakers have tried to provide them anyway.

All Things Hidden takes a different path.  If you think you know where it’s going, you’re wrong.  This story is far more interesting than what most will be expecting, and far more powerful.  How, you ask?  There are secrets here that I won’t give away, but as for what I will tell you…

I’ll tell you that it all starts with the script.  Persephone Vandegrift tackles a theme toward which the public at large has become disturbingly numb and finds the nerve that a thousand made-for-Lifetime-Network movies have missed.  This is a story that knocks back the common platitudes and reaches for what’s real… and then heightens the reality with a small touch of magic.  It also lets the audience do the thinking, drawing the viewer in and forcing him or her to experience what’s being presented and interpret it for him or herself without expository hand-holding or simplistic explanations.  This approach is key to the story’s power, for by forcing the audience to connect, it further invites said audience to take what’s unfolding to heart and experience those parts of the story that transcend words and make it something far more personal, whether one initially expected it to be so or not.  And the fact that ultimately, any answers remain unspoken…  That, I think, is the script’s greatest masterstroke.

All Things Hidden is, after all, not so much about screen-Dannie as it is about you.  About someone you know.  About all of us.

With that said, Dannie’s still pretty damn compelling.

Carollani Sandberg takes an extremely difficult role and nails it.  Playing a character of the archetype from which Dannie is drawn would be challenging enough in any case, but All Things Hidden presents her with the additional hurdle of having to convey the majority of what remains unspoken by the script.  Gestures, facial expressions, and overall body language make the most important statements here, and Carollani Sandberg conveys these statements with a depth of onscreen emotion that is simply remarkable to behold.  Outstanding?  Absolutely.

As is the performer playing Dannie’s younger self, Zoe Christie.  All Things Hidden is a tough story for anyone to tell, but child actor Christie displays a pro’s talent from start to finish, picking up where Sandberg leaves off and making the audience truly believe that these two characters are one in the same person.  No power is lost when Dannie becomes a child again; just the opposite, really.

The parade of excellent performances continues right on down the line.  Julianne Christie takes the character of Dannie’s stoically suffering mother, Maggie, and slides her just far enough away from the stereotype a jaded viewer wants to make of her to force said viewer to accept the character as a real person to been reckoned with.  On the opposite end, Ben Andrews takes what could easily be considered the thankless role of Dannie’s violent father, Richard, and gives him just enough humanity to be real beyond type, which is essential to amping up the film’s ability to grip.  And as for the character of Dannie’s Aunt Helen…  I have yet to see a film or show that features Trin Miller wherein she doesn’t manage to present a fully fleshed character in thirty seconds or less no matter how much or how little the script asks her to say or do.  I have to go back to the black and white era to find someone else who can do that as well and as consistently.  So yeah, she’s amazing.  Again.

All of the power of these performances and the screenplay from which they derive is further magnified by an excellent score by Catherine Grealish, whose music – especially that music box cue – gives All Things Hidden an extra haunting quality that lingers long after the last frame has flickered and the last notes have been played.

This isn’t to say that All Things Hidden is technically perfect, but when all was said and done, I found its primary technical drawback to be something of an asset.  All Things Hidden isn’t badly directed, but it’s not really polished either; it’s the one aspect of the film that’s pretty much straight up the middle.  However, as I watched the film, I found that this approach nudged me toward paying even closer attention to the characters, since the actors were left to carry even more of the weight of the picture… and that’s exactly what had to happen to make the story play as well as it does.  Neat trick, that.

Speaking of neat tricks…

No; some things need to stay hidden until you can see this film for yourself.  And I do want you to see it, and to encourage others to see it after you.  All Things Hidden has a message that most of us think we get already, but that we tend to learn we really don’t until after we find ourselves in the middle of our own shadow-filled story, whether as a major player or a character off to the side.  Maybe you’re Dannie.  Maybe you’re Richard.  Maybe you’re Helen.  Maybe you’re the Significant Other, or the nice short order cook at the café, or the customer who happened to see something uncomfortable while sipping on coffee.  Whatever the case may be, chances are, you’re in this movie, and it has something important to say to you.

Bottom line, it’s worth your time to experience All Things Hidden, and listen to what it has to say.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2013


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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