Albie (Timothy Haug, Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies, Murder Syndicate) and Penny (Christie Griffin, K.R. Kitt Comes Out of the Garage, Elephant Department) are having a night out without their two kids. They need it because their once perfect marriage is falling apart, something that’s obvious from his lack of reaction when she comes downstairs ready to go.
Things do get better, Penny’s mother even says she’ll keep the kids overnight. But things take a bad turn on the way home. And an even worse one when they get home and find a man (Miles Taber, The Play Nintendo Show, The Daily Bubble) and woman (Julianne Ruck) claiming to live there. When Albie gets hostile, the man uses some kind of mental power on him.
Compounding their problems, their neighbour Mark (Mark Norwood, Mantra) claims not to know them and the police not only don’t care, they’re actively hostile. They visit Penny’s sister Kimmy (Whitney Reade), who also lives in the area. She refuses to let them stay with her overnight and instead suggests they go back to the house, sneak in and record evidence for the police. Albie actually thinks this is a good idea, they go back to the house and promptly get caught by the strangers.
It’s like a nightmare out of The Twilight Zone, nothing looks different, but something obviously has changed in the couple of hours they were gone. Writer/director Jared Allmond (Sense No Evil) gives the viewer enough clues that they know it’s not a delusion on Albie and Penny’s part, but there’s very little else they can initially figure out. However, their reaction as the strangers interrogate them makes something about The Hive clearer, it isn’t primarily meant to be a horror film.
At its core, The Hive is a tale about Albie and Penny, a couple with typical internal turmoil in their relationship. This couple has long let go of the tools needed to overcome that typical relationship turmoil. So the strenuous outside circumstances that come along tear down the integrity of the couple’s relationship even more so, until there’s nothing left.
Obviously, having a subtext in a film like The Hive is not a bad thing. Done right, it can add a lot to a film’s impact by making a fantastic concept feel more relatable. Here, unfortunately, it frequently takes over the focus from the main plot, becoming an annoying distraction from what appears to be an interesting hybrid of home invasion and Invasion of the Body Snatchers type films.
As a thriller, The Hive gets off to a fairly decent start. It has a basic premise that’s rather literally the stuff of nightmares, and then adds to it, so you’re not just wondering what happened, but how did it happen so fast? And, why does their neighbour not remember them, but Kimmy does, even though she seems not to be herself either? But it doesn’t do a lot with the setup that we haven’t seen before.
There are moments that work, such as when the couple are being interrogated about something they have no clue about, but they don’t lead anywhere interesting. The ending is one you’ll have guessed well before it arrives and the morning after coda feels cheap and manipulative, not to mention clichéd, rather than frightening.
Perhaps if Allmond had put as much effort into taking the main story in an original direction rather than overdeveloping the film’s subplot, The Hive could have been a serviceable thriller. But it wastes too much time and effort on the leads’ dysfunction and warmed over genre tropes to be effective.
Buffalo 8 will release The Hive to Digital and VOD Platforms on October 27th.