Hider in the House (film)

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Hider in the House
Hider in the House FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byMatthew Patrick
Produced byMichael Taylor
Edward Teets
Steven Reuther
Written byLem Dobbs
StarringGary Busey
Mimi Rogers
Michael McKean
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyJeff Jur
Edited byDebra T. Smith
Release date
  • December 1, 1989 (1989-12-01)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

Hider in the House is a 1989 psychological thriller directed by Matthew Patrick and starring Gary Busey and Mimi Rogers.


A recently released psychiatric patient named Tom Sykes creates a home for himself in the attic of the Dreyer family's newly built house. He uses electronic devices to spy on them. Tom murders the Dreyer's beloved dog Rudolph, when Rudolph attempts to defend his family against the titular hider. After that, Tom starts to focus his attention on the mom, Julie, going so far as to watch her skinny dip in the pool. He interferes secretly in the relationship between Julie and her husband, Phil, planting bogus evidence of secret love affairs. He befriends the Dreyers' son Neal and teaches him fighting techniques. After two explosive arguments, Phil leaves the house and moves into a hotel. Seeing this as an opportunity, Sykes pretends to be a visitor who lives a couple of blocks over. His attempt to insinuate himself into their lives works at first, although the creepy neighbor Gene is the only one who distrusts him. Sykes murders two people who had accidentally discovered his bizarre goings-on and finally Julie becomes sufficiently suspicious to reject his advances. Tom loses it, and he tries to kill Julie. Phil shows up and is severely injured defending her while Julie gets a gun and shoots Tom in the chest. This does not kill him, and Tom gets up and tries to kill both Julie and himself, but the police (summoned by Gene) shoot Tom dead from the doorway.



A psychologist was hired as an adviser to make the sure the psychology of the Tom Sykes character was as realistic as possible. After a meeting with the psychologist, Gary Busey was excited, saying it was a "NAR film." He explained that NAR meant "No acting required." Gary said: "I am the character!" Gary Busey was then involved in a terrible motorcycle accident, where he was not wearing a helmet and got horrible brain damage. This occurred five days after principal photography wrapped on Hider in the House.


Hider in the House was the directorial debut of Matthew Patrick, who also reworked the film's script. One of the main things that was changed was that Tom Sykes, the main character and primary antagonist of the film, was originally more sympathetic. The original script showed that he grew up in an abusive household and his actions were motivated by a desperate craving for a family of his own. Because of this, he is unaware of his own strength and if he acts violently, it is done out of fear of a perceived threat. The film is not very graphic, but is rather driven by suspense. Originally, the film ended with Sykes redeeming himself. After being devastated by rejection of the family, he explodes in fury. However, before he can complete the destruction of the family, he is struck with a powerful realization: That he is reenacting the abuse that he suffered as a child. This would cause him to break the chain of violence that is usually carried down from generation to generation. It is a seemingly small, but really is a significant victory for this character. This ending has more optimism, for then the movie is about how abused children can overcome their past. It is about finding the love within themselves. In the original ending, Sykes attempted to burn down the house with the family in it, recreating what he did to his abusive family when he was a child. However, when he sees the terrified faces of the family, he realizes that he has become as evil as his parents. Though he has been rejected, he still loves this family. He pushes them out the window to safety. As he watches them kiss and hug each other, Tom realizes he can never be a part of them, and lets the house burn down around him, killing himself. Although the studio was very supportive of the film director Matthew Patrick wanted to make, the studio eventually decided to have a more commercially safe "Fatal Attraction"-style ending, where Sykes becomes evil beyond redemption, attempts to murder the family and is eventually shot dead. This is eventually what was filmed and put into the film. A couple years later, Matthew Patrick saw the film's executive producer, Steven Reuther, again at the Academy Awards. Reuther said, "you know what… I think you were right… that would have made a better ending." On this, Patrick said: "I really admire Steve, that he could say that."


The film was scheduled to be released in 1200 theaters in the United States, which was a lot in 1989. Unfortunately, right at this time, Vestron got into difficult financial trouble and the movie was shelved, never receiving a theatrical release in the United States, only at film festivals. The film had a previous distribution agreement, however, that it had to be released theatrically overseas in Europe. They honored it, but just barely. The film only played for a week in a theater before it was pulled. The film received excellent reviews and notices wherever it opened. Later, it was sold to TV, cable and VHS. In 1991, the film was finally released on videocassette by Vestron Video. The film has been released on DVD in the United Kingdom, but as of February 24, 2010, Lions Gate Home Entertainment has yet to announce any plans for a region 1 DVD release. Hider in the House's earnings have never been confirmed. Still, it went on to win the Saturn Award for best home video, which director Matthew Patrick only discovered many years later, after he was on the Director's Guild.

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