TNT’s “Mystery Movie Night” is certainly a throwback to the olden days of TV movies, but do the projects actually have to be plucked directly out of a time machine? Enter “Hide,” a grim, nasty and almost comically overheated potboiler, featuring Carla Gugino as a Boston detective investigating the mummified remains of six young women. It’s a mystery, it’s a workplace romantic triangle, it’s two taste treats in one. While it’s nice to see made-fors making a mini-comeback, it won’t last long if they’re as dunderheaded as this one.
The bodies are found in an abandoned mental hospital, and D.D. Warren (Gugino) and fellow detective Bobby Ridge (Kevin Alejandro) are quickly on the case. Oh yes, and they’re also sleeping together, but without any commitment because, as D.D. explains, “I am in love. With this. With what I do.”
Having not read Lisa Gardner’s novel, let’s assume writer Janet Brownell tried to be faithful to the tone, but it thoroughly flummoxed her and director John Gray, who have concocted a movie filled with stilted dialogue and improbable twists and turns. Most of them center on a mysterious woman named Annabelle (Bridget Regan) with a vague past who becomes part of the case, and a potential target for the shadowy killer.
D.D. also picks up a new investigator, Alex (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who almost immediately feels at liberty to psychoanalyze her relationship with Bobby when he isn’t helping seek clues. If their banter is supposed to be flirty, the real mystery is why she doesn’t mace him the first time the bozo starts insinuating himself into her head.
All of this builds toward a breathless climax ridiculous even by the conventions of the thriller genre. It’s almost worth watching for the last 15 minutes just for giggles.
Although Gugino has been good in many things, it’s hard to figure out what she’s trying to convey with this role, playing a presumably hard-bitten detective as if she’s a kittenish Jessica Rabbit. Then again, that’s probably over-thinking things, which is something nobody will accuse the filmmakers of doing.
Many doubtless harbor fond memories of the “Mystery Movie” wheel, and TNT — with its lineup of mostly meat-and-potatoes series — deserves kudos for trying to revive that nostalgic franchise for a new generation. Something like “Hide,” though, is no way to jump-start the genre — unless the goal is to try hiding in plain sight.