In the new Lifetime movie Hidden Away, nobody’s who they say they are. From a woman and her daughter taking on new identities to escape an abusive husband to that same abusive husband using a fake name to get revenge on that woman and her daughter, everyone’s pretending to be someone they’re not. And it’s confusing. Unfortunately, unlike in The Nightmare Nanny, none of the characters slipped up and called each other by names they shouldn’t know. This is good news for the filmmakers, since they managed to maintain continuity, but it’s bad news for me because I didn’t get to laugh at it. I did, however, laugh at plenty of other things, so let’s get to it.
It was a dark and stormy night in Washington, and Stephanie (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and her daughter Sage were wearing adorable raincoats and fleeing their home in a canoe. I know their names are Stephanie and Sage because Stephanie’s husband – and Sage’s stepdad – Andrew (Ivan Sergei) is currently screaming that over and over again from the dock as he looks for them. Cue police officer Carl questioning Andrew about his family’s disappearance. I know his name is Carl because Andrew is currently saying it creepily every other sentence. Andrew says he and Stephanie weren’t having any problems, but based on the vivid flashbacks to him beating her, I’d say that’s not the case. Stephanie and Sage are considered dead, and after wallowing with alcohol and home videos, Andrew crumples up the life insurance policy. I wonder if that will be an important part of the plot later in the film. Since it took three people to write this screenplay, one would hope.
Ten years later, Stephanie (who is now named Alexandra) is taking kick-boxing classes in Palm Springs and working as a realtor alongside Lynn, who is played by none other than Elisabeth Rohm, aka blind lady Alijandra in Lifetime movie In the Dark! And they’re showing a house to Hallee Hirsh, aka the little girl from You’ve Got Mail! Sage (Allie Gonino) is now named Rachel and is working at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and flirting with the guy who works at the snack bar. Uh oh, star-crossed lovers. Andrew’s back in Washington working as a firefighter… Oh, wait, never mind, he’s been fired. And he crumples that paper up too. It’s clearly his favorite thing to do. While dealing with a possum problem in the attic, Andrew comes across a box filled with family photos and a book titled Creating a New Identity, along with a list of names and social security numbers, which Stephanie-Alexandra just happened to leave behind. I swear, Lifetime movies would be five minutes long if the people in them possessed even an iota of common sense.
Andrew meets with a private detective in a diner (how original), and soon he knows all about Stephanie’s new identity and also the fact that she stole his identity to cash in that life insurance policy. Phew, I was worried that wouldn’t come into play again. The detective plans to take this information to the police, but that plan kind of goes out the window when Andrew poisons him and takes the case file to conduct his own creepy investigation.
Meanwhile, Alexandra (as she will be known from here on out to make things less confusing) is busy getting proposed to by her boyfriend Brett (Sean Patrick Flanery). He has a restaurant serve her a cupcake with the words “Will you marry me?” on it. She somehow refrains from stuffing her face with the cupcake long enough to read the words. Weird. Rachel gives her blessing, and everything’s great, until we see Andrew staring at them from across the street and realize it’s not great at all. How not great? Andrew is lounging on his motel bed looking at Rachel’s printed-out selfies, complete with duck face and peace sign. This is dark, my friends.
Andrew proceeds to break into Alexandra’s house in order to plant very obvious cameras and also to smell her bed pillow. He narrowly avoids Rachel, who comes home and tries on her mom’s engagement ring. I was half expecting some sort of subplot where she can’t get the ring off and her quirky best friend puts butter on it. That would be fun, but unfortunately Lifetime movies generally don’t turn into ‘90s sitcoms at the drop of a hat.
Andrew invites the girl from the front desk of his motel over for sexytimes, and the movie does this tricksy thing where you see the window of his room and hear sex moans, and you assume it’s Andrew and front desk girl having sex. But it turns out they already had sex, and he’s busy sitting in the corner watching Alexandra have sex with Brett on the hidden camera. It makes him so angry he throws his glass across the room, because I guess there’s no paper around to crumple.
The next step in Andrew’s plan is to take Rachel’s tour of the tramway. They bond, and he tells her his name is Jake Dawson, probably because teenage girls love Titanic and it’s close enough to Jack Dawson that she’ll trust him. Rachel reveals that, as far as she knows, her stepdad is dead. This leads Andrew to tell her that her stepdad is always watching over her. Somehow she finds this comment sweet and not creepy. But that’s not all! He also follows Brett and Alexandra to dinner, and when Brett takes a phone call he sits with Alexandra and eats Brett’s lettuce. He plants a recording device on her purse when he leaves. How do these people not notice these things?!
Later, Andrew and Alexandra have a pleasant stroll after he jumps out in front of her car. He tells her to get him the $250,000 she stole through the life insurance. Before scrounging up the money, Alexandra gives BFF Lynn an envelope containing proof of Andrew’s abuse. So of course Andrew attacks Lynn and takes the envelope, which Lynn irresponsibly left out in the open on her dashboard. Andrew drops her off at an abandoned mine in the mountains. How quaint.
Meanwhile, Alexandra finally gets around to telling Rachel the truth about that whole “faking their deaths and taking on new identities” thing. Even though Alexandra says Andrew beat her and would probably beat Rachel too, Rachel is all huffy and goes to stay with her friend. Dude, weigh it.
Alexandra gets Brett to help her out with the money, and Andrew decides this is the perfect time to smack Brett in the face with his gun. He also chloroforms Rachel and takes them both to the mine. Oh, hey there, Lynn. You don’t look too good. Alexandra comes to the rescue with mace and her badass kickboxing skillz. She and Rachel make a run for it. Unfortunately Brett is knocked out again, and Lynn is totes dead. Sorry, Lynn. Mom and daughter make it onto the tram, but Andrew squeezes through the door just as it closes. Cue climactic tram struggle involving lots of kicks, some fire hydrant action, and Alexandra hanging out of the open tram before pulling herself back up. The same can’t be said for Andrew, who ends the movie hanging the same way. Alexandra offers her hand to help him up, but he suddenly has a change of heart and says, I kid you not, “I don’t deserve you. Goodbye,” before letting go. You sure you don’t want to add a “Fly, you fools” for good measure, Gandalf the Cray Cray?
Six months later, Alexandra, Brett and Rachel are happy at the pool, and nobody mentions Lynn, who is still dead. Sorry I’m not willing to ignore it like you guys are. I think there should be a special In Memoriam segment at the Emmys for all the Lifetime characters whose deaths go unmourned because their friends would rather go on vacation. RIP.