One of my favorite films of this year’s Austin Film Festival was an intense, nail-biter of a thriller from Poland. The Hidden Web follows journalist Julita Wójcicka as she investigates the strange death of a beloved celebrity, whose untimely demise gets labeled as an accident by the local police. However, Julita’s instincts detect foul play, and she digs deeper into the celeb’s past.

As she inches closer and closer to further clues, Julita becomes the target of a scandal of her own. Someone potentially responsible for the murder wants Julita to stop her investigation and utilizes the scandal as a stern warning. Undaunted in her quest for the truth, Julita risks her career and her life to get to the bottom of things.

Based on the novel by Jakub Szamalek, The Hidden Web proves to be an exhilarating and suspenseful thriller that feels akin to Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series of books and the movies adapted from these works. Like the Swedish stories, Piotra Adamski’s film has a carefully woven plot with plenty of thrills, shocks, and surprises galore.

The film features a phenomenal cast, but it is the acting of lead Magdalena Koleśnik whose portrayal of Julita makes this story soar. This AFF entry is a movie I hope will reach American audiences outside of the festival circuit because it is a propulsive piece of cinema that deserves more attention.

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