As a psychological thriller, or a horror film, "Hide and Seek" doesn't break new ground. In fact, once it's over, the viewer feels somehow manipulated by what we have just witnessed. There are, supposedly, four different alternative endings for the movie, but unfortunately, the one being shown, doesn't add anything to what we have already seen.Although the film has some interesting moments, director John Polson has gone for the Grand Guignol effect. Ari Schlosberg's screen play gives us hints about what to expect, yet, when we realize the mystery at the center of the story, we keep scratching our heads.Suffice it to say, this film doesn't add anything to Robert DeNiro's brilliant career. Mr. DeNiro's last choices in films puzzle us, as well as his fans because we know he is capable of doing much better. Yet, as shown with this film and "Meet the Parents", and its sequel, "Meet the Fockers", "Analize This", and "Analize That", the actor keeps us wondering about his choices.Dakota Fanning is a young actress who shows an uncanny sense of how to upstage Mr. DeNiro in most of their scenes together. As Emily, in this film, this girl shows an enormous range in what she is capable of doing. One can see Ms. Fanning growing to be another Jody Foster in later years.The rest of the cast is completely underused. Amy Irving is only seen in flashbacks, which is a shame since she is a valuable actress. Famke Janssen has a few key scenes. The same goes for Melissa Leo, Elisabeth Shue and Robert John Burke.The only consolation was it was shown on cable and we felt lucky not having spent the price of admission.
Maybe Robert De Niro's doctor in Godsend (2004) went to the same medical school of horrors as his Dr. David Callaway in Hide and Seek, this year's De Niro toss away film, from which he deposits his considerable paycheck along with cash from Meet the Fockers. Why he doesn't concentrate his fortune and connections (as Clint Eastwood does) to craft an artful small film that would allow his acting gifts is the only mystery for me from his prolific but arguably spotty career.Young Emily Callaway (Dakota Fanning) has lost her mother (Amy Irving) to suicide. Psychologist dad moves her to an older, rambling house in the woods in upstate New York to start a new life. Not new are the abundant clichés of the horror film: the suspicious neighbors, whom director John Polson makes as creepy as possible; the questionable sheriff; the doors leading to scares; the mutilated dolls; Emily's imaginary friend, Charlie, who appears to be causing numberless offenses in the house; and knives placed as objects of intrinsic interest; and a vulnerable girl friend, Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue). I stopped counting, for the film is one extended cliché after another.The interest for serious filmgoers might be the depiction of the psychological stat after a loss to suicide. Whatever the term might be such as "post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome," the film does a credible job showing how difficult it is for Emily to lead a normal life after the loss of her mother (and for her father as well). While there are echoes of Stephen King (The Shining's "Here's Johnny" comes to mind) and Hitchcock (think shower scene), there is no comparison in quality with those classics. The audience at the preview enjoyed some of the stock shock moments behind the many closed doors. Hide and Seek will titillate horror fans but disappoint discerning film buffs, who look for some believable edge and innovation.Milton in Paradise Lost expressed the descent from happiness to despair: "Farewell happy fields, Where joy forever dwells: hail, horrors!" Hide and Seek is not a classic horror film; it is a classic underachiever.
After the suicide of his wife (Amy Irving), David Callaway (Robert De Niro) takes his mentally disturbed 9-year-old daughter, Emily (Dakota Fanning) to a new home in the country in upstate New York. Instead of getting better, Emily begins to withdraw further, and she announces to her father that she has a new imaginary friend named "Charlie." At first, her father sees Charlie as a way for Emily to express her feelings. Then a series of vicious acts such as menacing writings appearing on the bathroom walls, and other mysterious occurrences start happening around the house. David blames Emily for doing them, but Emily says that Charlie did it. But is Charlie imaginary? You'd have to ask Emily, who is the only one who can see Charlie. Charlie may actually be both real and very dangerous. The movie is well crafted and suspenseful with a great cast. For a thriller, I did jump a few times. The ending was a little disappointing, but not unpredictable. (20th Century Fox, Run time 1:40, Rated R)(8/10)
I wasn't impressed with 'Hide and Seek.' If you've seen Secret Window or any of the recent horror=thrillers with endings of an identical twist, you'll understand how tired and utterly formulaic this has become. Hide and Seek lacks imagination anyways because the viewer is asked to be confounded by a series of disconnected scare tactics such as things jumping of closets, the last minute awareness of the culprit before the death of an unsuspecting victim, and above all, modern horror-thriller filmmakers determined to creep you out with some weirdo kid.All the while, however, the story is very thin: that of a father and his young daughter coping with the gruesome death of the wife/mother who supposedly slit her wrists in the bathtub where she bled to death. However, we are led to believe that in fact, her death was no accident. And the weird little girl and her mysterious, elusive friend "Charlie," seem to be behind the whole thing as they taunt the father who just seems to want to get on with things. Something like 'The Omen,' if you will. But, it doesn't end that way, of course.Instead, a cast of pretty good actors star in a film of cheap tricks and an even cheaper ending (including the infamous last scene where you think that all is well until there is some last minute evidence that in fact, the evil will continue unabated). Formula one hundred percent. If you've seen films like 'Secret Window' or 'Taking Lives' or other similar pseudo-mind benders (sorry, other titles don't come to mind at the moment), then you're in for nothing new if you watch 'Hide and Seek.' In any event, De Niro didn't over act and Dakota Fanning did a fine job creeping me out.
"Hide and Seek" is one of the best horror films I've seen in awhile. It is about a psychologist, David Callaway (Robert DeNiro) whose wife commits suicide, and he decides to move to upstate New York with his daughter, Emily (Dakota Fanning), whose personality has severely changed after her mother's death. A family friend/psychologist/co-worker of David, Katherine (Famke Janssen) disagrees with David's decision to move, and thinks that Emily should stay where she is. Then after David and Emily move into their new house, David meets Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue), who becomes a friend to David and Emily. Then strange things begin to happen - Emily discovers a new imaginary friend, Charlie. And then people start to die. Robert DeNiro and Dakota Fanning are both brilliant, their performances were extremely real and convincing. Dakota is quite talented for her age, and DeNiro gives another great performance like he always does. Famke Janssen ("Don't Say A Word" and "House on Haunted Hill") also does great, and Elisabeth Shue ("The Karate Kid") is also very good. In fact, the whole cast was great. The whole film was really suspenseful, and it tricks you a lot. The atmosphere was heavy, I loved the whole feeling of the secluded upstate New York small-town, and the large house David and Emily move into. I liked this movie because it was more psychological rather than chop and slash gore that most horror films use to scare people. "Hide and Seek" has a good, solid story behind it, which is why it is such a good horror film, and the acting is top notch on top of it all. I don't understand everyone's problem with this movie, it was actually quite good. Sure, the ending is a little cliché, but the rest of the movie was good enough on it's own. 8/10.