CORPORATE LINE: “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
That command is familiar to everyone who has played the children’s game, Hide and Seek. The words and game take us back to an innocent, carefree time in our lives, where the simple goal was to find hiding playmates. Many children could even enjoy a spirited game with imaginary friends.
But then, imaginary friends can sometimes seem so real…
For young Emily Callaway, her games of Hide and Seek with an imaginary friend named Charlie have become anything but simple and innocent. Instead, she finds herself in the middle of a series of increasingly nightmarish acts that even her father David cannot stop. Who – or what – is Charlie? David wonders. How can an “imaginary” entity have this kind of hold on her? Maybe Charlie is not imaginary at all, but instead a flesh-and-blood, malevolent presence?
Academy Award® winner Robert De Niro stars as David Callaway, a troubled father and widower in the suspense-thriller HIDE AND SEEK, and Dakota Fanning portrays his young daughter Emily, who is hiding an incredible secret. As the story opens, Callaway’s wife Alison (Amy Irving) dies suddenly, traumatizing Emily. Father and daughter move to Upstate New York to distance Emily from the memories of her life in Manhattan with her mother. Soon thereafter, Emily develops a friendship with Charlie. At first, David sees Charlie as a positive way for Emily to express herself, but a series of terrifying acts lead him to imagine the unimaginable: Charlie may actually be real…and if so, he must be stopped.
THE GOOD: Robert DeNiro is a double-edged sword for Hide And Seek. You can understand—sort of—why DeNiro chose to take the role as it’s certainly a departure from his usual roles.
Hide And Seek has its moments of spookiness. Fanning is oddly scary—but not in a Exorcist or Carrie way.
THE BAD: DeNiro certainly went out on a limb here but he can’t save a ship that would have sunk irregardless of who played the lead. Dakota Fanning is a fantastic actress too bad she isn’t in a part that is saleable. Fanning plays every part spot on and you can only believe that this is the way she was directed to play Emily. The problem is that you never quite bond nor sympathize with the character and that has not been the case with Fanning in the past. Obviously director Polson made a critical error directing the young Fanning.
A good movie gets better as it progresses whereas Hide and Seek does the exact opposite. Hide And Seek didn’t need to be bad but it gets locked into the same thriller movie clichés—most notably how everyone seems to lose all common sense when all hell breaks loose.
DVD FEATURES: As usual when you have a film that you never fall in love with it makes it hard to get into the commentary—unless of course it’s really good. The commentary by Director John Polson, Screenwriter Ari Schlossberg, and Editor Jeffrey Ford offers some insight here and there but doesn’t do much to make the film better.
The “Making-Of” featurette isn’t interesting at all—and yes it’s because the movie is bad. The deleted scenes are odd because they may have actually made the film better—that is if the movie could get any better.
Finally, the alternate endings are oddly better than the one used for the actual theatrical release. Go figure.
FRANKLY: Had it been without DeNiro Hide And Seek might have gone direct to video. Sorry Bobby, this is a dud.
+ Charlie Craine