Hide And Seek (2005)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
John Polson John Polson
Robert De Niro Robert De Niro
Dakota Fanning Dakota Fanning
Famke Janssen Famke Janssen
Elisabeth Shue Elisabeth Shue
Amy Irving Amy Irving

4.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Psychological Thriller, Thriller
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Review by Chad
Added: October 11, 2006
I've been with the same woman for almost ten years now, and for the most part, we have the same taste in movies. Sure, I watch some sexploitation stuff that she doesn't care for and she likes some of those foreign romance films that I think are utter garbage, but usually, we'll take each others' word when it comes to rental night and watch whatever the other picks out. Tonight, she picked out Hide and Seek (obviously - otherwise, this paragraph would be entirely off subject), and I must say that while it hasn't shattered my faith in her movie choices, it's definitely one that we'll never agree on.

The plot centers around a psychologist named David Callaway (Robert De Niro) and his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) who have just moved to upstate New York in order to "start over" after David's wife (Amy Irving) kills herself. Almost as soon as they move into their new home, Emily befriends someone who goes by the name of Charlie; however, we at home are led to believe that this is an imaginary friend, created by Emily as a method of dealing with the trauma of losing her mother. David is a bit concerned about this, but being a psychologist, he feels that there's nothing too terribly wrong with it. He changes his mind on the matter, however, when Charlie starts convincing Emily to do things that nobody, nonetheless a twelve-year-old girl, should be doing. He starts to suspect that this friend of hers isn't imaginary at all, but who could possibly be telling her to do all of this stuff? There's a nice-sized chunk of suspects, ranging from the sheriff (Dylan Baker) who doesn't appear to be very trustworthy to the grief-stricken neighbors who have just lost their only daughter to cancer, not to mention a couple of other characters who pop up as the movie progresses.

Now, I mentioned in the opening of this review that there was a bit of a disagreement between myself and the female of the house when it came to this movie, and that's because she thought that it was an excellent film that ranks up there with some of the classics. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was a bad movie, but I found that it certainly wasn't anything special either. My reasoning for this isn't due to the storyline or the acting (both of which were good), but simply because the ending is highly predictable and it feels like a by-the-numbers script. You take a child actor, make them appear to be slightly disturbed in the mental department, reveal that they're actually correct in what they're saying (are kids ever wrong in these movies?), throw in some red herrings, reveal a huge twist ending, and wrap it all up with a final scene that will send the audience home happy but still leaves room for a direct-to-video sequel down the road. I don't expect every film to be completely original in every regard (after all, my favorite genre is the zombie film, and those aren't known for being fresh and original), but something's wrong when I can name at least five films that follow the exact pattern used in this film. Had this been released prior to the Sixth Sense-inspired flood of twist ending thrillers, I may have enjoyed it more; sadly, however, it brings absolutely nothing new to the table.

Other than the lack of originality, the film was pretty decent. Although the ending was easy to guess by the thirty-minute mark, it did manage to keep me interested nonetheless due to the fact that I wanted to see how everything would be explained. I can't say that I saw the actual explanations coming, only the end result, so there was still a small amount of surprises to be found when all was revealed. De Niro does a great job with his role in both, uh, phases of it (for lack of a better word), and although I'm really getting sick of Dakota Fanning (is she the only female child actor working today?), I have to admit that she stood her ground with her on screen father when it came to her performance.

Overall, it's a decent enough film on its own, but if you've seen even one or two of these types of thrillers, then you'll most likely get nothing new out of this one. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the "happy" ending presented in the theatrical version, but there is an alternate ending featured on the DVD (I'll just say "ending #4" so as not to spoil it) that would have put a smile on my face had it actually been used. When will Hollywood learn that not every movie has to end with "and they all lived happily ever after" and start taking some risks? 5/10.
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Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 10/12/2006, 10:23 AM
I agree with pretty much everything you said. It's decent but it's nothing great. But I will say this, Dakota Fanning made that movie. I thought she was great. She was pretty much the only reason I stayed interested. But still, the film itself is pretty weak.
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