When Pace's (Brendan McCarthy) wife died he not only had people suspecting him of murdering her but he hit the bottle and couldn't look after his daughter Zoe (Diana Hopper). It is why Zoe ended up being cared for by her aunt Jamie (Sarah Lind) who does her best trying to keep a moody teen happy. But Zoe has a secret as she has been carrying on with Michael (Shawn Christian), a friend of Jamie's, but is only using him so she can leave town, get away from her father and her family's history. When a teenager finds Zoe's body dumped in the lake everyone once again suspects Pace of being involved, everyone except Jamie who sets out to find the truth as to who murdered her niece and also her late sister-in-law.
When I think of an episode of "Columbo", almost every time they started with a murder where we witness who did it and it was fine because "Columbo" was all about the nature of Columbo catching the killer. Unfortunately when it comes to one off TV movies it doesn't have the benefit of character familiarity and so showing the murderer right away is frustrating. It is one of the issues which "Hidden Truth" has because we see Michael and Zoe fighting late at night and see him lift the rock to do her in with.
What this opening means is that "Hidden Truth" consists of Jamie turning amateur detective to find out who killed her niece whilst Michael sets about covering his tracks and setting up Pace. Along the way she finds some clues such as an envelope stashed with cash in one of her draws whilst she also has to deal with the Sheriff initial suspicions focusing on her brother. The trouble is that it isn't in the least bit riveting and you end up scratching your head when the Sheriff reveals details of the case to Jamie which seem delicate and not the sort of thing you tell a grieving relative, although there seems little in the way of grieving going on.
The real annoying thing about "Hidden Truth" is director Steven R. Moore has delivered a decent thriller, yes the script is flawed but visually he has used the locations nicely to create atmosphere. In fact the cast also do a decent job of playing their parts with Brendan McCarthy standing out for playing it rough and moody.
What this all boils down to is that "Hidden Truth" has some major issues when it comes to the story which prevents this from being a gripping thriller. But the style is much better than you usually get from this sort of movie which makes it frustrating for being flawed.