thu 25/04/2024

Hidden, BBC Four review - a death in Snowdonia | reviews, news & interviews

Hidden, BBC Four review - a death in Snowdonia

Hidden, BBC Four review - a death in Snowdonia

A strong start from the heir to 'Hinterland'

Celtic noir: DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) and DS Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies)

Nordic shmordic. Why travel to Scandinavia to get your dark, disturbing mysteries when you can find them in Wales? You even get subtitles for an extra frisson of otherness.

Hidden (or Craith in Welsh) stems from the same BBC Cymru Wales/S4C provenance as Hinterland, with whom it also shares the executive-producing fingerprints of Mark Andrew and Ed Talfan. Likewise, it echoes the eeriness and sense of isolation of its predecessor, exploiting spectacular but melancholy Snowdonia scenery to evoke a steady undertone of dread and horrors hidden in the undergrowth.

There had to be a corpse to kick the story off, of course. This one turned out to be Mali Pryce, found dead in a river, having apparently suffered head trauma and bearing cuts and lacerations to her wrists. DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams, from Hinterland and Requiem) was called in to investigate. A forensic examination found that the victim had drowned, and also suggested that she’d been “shackled” and kept in captivity for months or even years.

Cadi, who radiates an air of slightly shop-worn resignation, set off on the detection trail with her partner DS Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies), who’s younger and chirpier and, though married and with a baby on the way, seems quite smitten by police researcher Alys (Sarah Tempest). A little bit of digging unearthed the fact that the victim had been missing since April 2011. The ’tecs paid a visit to her father, who lapsed into a lugubrious soliloquy of self-recrimination (in Welsh) because he was separated from his wife and had neglected his daughter, who’d been hanging out with older men and partying at all hours. However, he also had it in for the cops, who’d done “fuck all” to find her in the last seven years, an uncomfortable fact which is now causing career-related anxiety to Cadi’s boss DS Lynn (Victoria Pugh).

We got a hefty steer towards the perp with the introduction of Dylan Harris (Rhodri Meilir, pictured above), a sullen-looking labourer who lives in a clearing in the woods with his mother Iona (Gillian Elisa), though since this was only the first of eight episodes circumspection is obligatory. It was Dylan we’d seen in the creepy pre-credit sequence, running through woodland in the dark to the accompaniment of ominous electronic sound effects to find a terrified-looking girl, evidently in extremis. Now here he was being kicked and chastised by his brutish mother and ordered to sleep outside with the animals, right after she’d watched a news report naming the dead girl.

But Hidden isn’t just about the cops and the investigation. It has a… hinterland, if you will. Cadi has more on her mind than her police work, because she’s helping her sisters to cope with their father’s terminal illness, even if said sisters seem to feel she hasn’t been pulling her weight (despite the fact that she got a job transfer to be closer to home). Dad, a former chief of police, can’t help taking a professional interest in the Mali Pryce case. Meanwhile there’s more to come about district nurse Lowri Driscoll, who seems to be being stalked by an abusive lover, and the self-harming student Megan, who’s displaying worrying suicidal tendencies (pictured above, Gwyneth Keyworth as Megan).

All of this is being played out amid a subdued colour scheme of damp browns and greens, in which picturesque tourist towns seem to be mourning their own private griefs. The soundtrack (by John Hardy Music, more Hinterland veterans) is an insidiously effective mix of carefully-sifted electronic tones, which is remarkably potent despite being leached of almost anything resembling a melody. Somehow Hidden’s cumulative effect evokes George Harrison’s line: “We were talking about the space between us all.”


HIDDEN has all the required elements of a scandi-noir. 1 most of the action takes place at night; 2 if there is any lighting - it's blue; 3 everybody lives in wooden houses in the woods; 4 everybody uses powerful, laser-like hand torches; 5 all the characters have personal problems and difficult relationships; 6 there are not a lorra laughs; 7 half the characters speak in a foreign language and there's even a bridge! Can we have something a bit different, please?

Welsh is not a foreign language. It’s been indigenous to this island for longer than the language into which it is subtitled and in which you are writing.

I totally agree. Despite brilliant acting, it's extremely boring (to me). Too many thriller series are now Scandi noir-inspired (latest series of The Killing and the Brön, tthe old Swedish Wallander, to name a few) but never reach their quality. Slow pace and a dark screen are not all what it takes.... Why not invent something new ?

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