The Hidden (1987) is Almost a Twin Peaks Movie

Kyle MacLachlan's wonderful performance as a young FBI agent is just the first of the film's many unexpected connections to Twin Peaks...

If Twin Peaks is over, I am content. The modern season, The Return, is my favourite piece of television – my favourite piece of art – and I am forever grateful for its existence. I do not expect any more Twin Peaks in any form and I’ve come to terms with that. But if more is ever announced, with David Lynch at the helm, it’ll be the greatest news I’ve ever heard. Part of me can’t stop hunting for that feeling the show gives me and I’ve been trying to quench my thirst elsewhere. Recently, the abstract nature of Zulawski’s 1981 film Possession, with its deep metaphors and mindboggling doppelgangers, gave me a Lynchian tingle. And then I came across 1987’s The Hidden on one of those endless scrolling sessions on a streaming service. Attracted by its one big, literal connection to Twin Peaks, I started watching and it ended up having more in common with my favourite series than I ever expected. 

The Hidden sees a young FBI agent team up with an experienced cop in LA to hunt down a criminal on a rampage of murder and bank robberies. It’s one of those classic 80s action thrillers where the gun sounds are incredibly loud, the blood squibs pack a punch, and Danny Trejo has a one-second cameo. The big Twin Peaks connection is that Kyle MacLachlan plays the FBI agent, two years before taking on the role of Dale Cooper. Other than that, it doesn’t seem like Twin Peaks all that much at first. More like The Terminator or, eventually, a long episode of The X-Files. And then the truth behind MacLachlan’s quarry is revealed…

The killer is actually an otherworldly being that can pass from person-to-person, possessing them. Just like Bob from Twin Peaks! The hero and villain fit the same mould in both stories. What’s more is that this alien parasite takes control by using its insect-like legs to climb into its victim’s mouth. Just like the bizarre frog moth that may or may not be Judy does to the girl who may or may not be Sarah Palmer! This evil alien seems addicted to cheesy 80s rock music too, which brings to mind the Twin Peaks quote, “Where we’re from… there’s always music in the air.” Although The Hidden seems to be playing more with the idea of mocking the link between satanism and rock music: having it turn people evil, or at least appeal to evil people, as well as poking fun at the consumerism of the time with the killer being obsessed with Ferraris.

Yet, like Twin Peaks, the possessed individual looks in the mirror to check that their host is still with them. And the first host for the alien parasite is none other than Hank Jennings himself, Chris Mulkey. Later, it seeks to possess a beautiful woman, the Laura surrogate, and manages to do so, unlike Bob in Fire Walk With Me. There’s no green ring in The Hidden but there is a red curtain, bringing to mind the Red Room, and the action finale occurs against its backdrop. And, while not a Twin Peaks connection, there is a connection to Lynch’s and MacLachlan’s Dune with the appearance of a character named DeVries. That could be an intentional reference considering Dune predated The Hidden.

Kyle MacLachlan is wonderful in the film, often gentle but tough when he needs to be. Similar to Cooper but with a pretty big twist. He is actually a human possessed by a different type of alien, this one good and trying to stop the villainous parasite. These two different types of aliens, one good from one planet and one bad from another place, is awfully similar to the interdimensional extraterrestrials (or however you want to try and describe the indescribable) from Twin Peaks. The Hidden has its own counterparts of the White Lodge and Black Lodge. The good one even spreads by having golden light exit its face, just like the Fireman does in Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return. The character’s alien nature surfaces through MacLachlan’s performance, though only subtly at first while he’s maintaining his secret. It’s early practice for some of his doppelganger acting in Twin Peaks.

For most of The Hidden’s runtime, I was thinking of how perfect it works as a prequel to Twin Peaks. If MacLachlan wasn’t possessed by an alien, or it left him by the end of the film, then the character could believably be Cooper. The case could get the attention of Gordon Cole and Dale would be accepted onto the Blue Rose Task Force, considering the mythology of the aliens lines up decently well with the more abstract version in Twin Peaks. But the film goes in a different direction and, honestly, is better for it because I loved the ending.

SPOILERS INBOUND. Cop Tom Beck is mortally wounded and his wife and young daughter mourn him. But MacLachlan’s ‘Lloyd Gallagher’ transfers his alien spirit over to Beck and not so much revives him as becomes him. It’s debatable whether this action is selfless or selfish. Is the alien taking pity on Beck’s family and resurrecting Beck (by puppeteering his body) for their sake, or is he stealing Beck’s family for himself because earlier in the film we learn the evil alien killed his good alien family. It’s a fascinating note to end on and, one final time, reminded me of a moment in Twin Peaks: Janey-E and Sonny Jim getting a new husband and father.  

Are you a Twin Peaks fan who has discovered The Hidden? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies, and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.

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