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Hide and Seek

A movie directed by John Polson

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The film teases but ends up ripping off much better films.

  • Jan 27, 2005
  • by
Pros: Good cast and Premise.

Cons: Lousy ending, horrible pacing.

The Bottom Line: A waste of time and talent.

The mind is a deep a complex organ that science still struggles to fully comprehend, despite the countless hours of research and study that have been expended in unlocking the mysteries contained within.
In the new thriller “Hide and Seek”, audiences are introduced to Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro), a Psychologist who is struggling to help his daughter Emile (Dakota Fanning) after the suicide of her mother. David believes that the best option is to move from New York City to a quite area upstate where he can focus on being a father to his daughter, who has become withdrawn despite intense counseling.

Despite opposition from Emily’s therapist and family friend Katherine (Famke Janssen), David and Emily relocate to a scenic and quite location and hour from the city.
At first everything seems to be going well with the move and David meets an attractive young lady named Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue), who watches over a little girl for another member of her family. Thinking that a friend will snap Emily from her state, David encourages Elizabeth to come to the house.

David is convinced the addition of a friend will encourage Emily to stop talking about an imaginary friend named Charlie who seems to have preoccupied the little girls time. David is convinced that Charlie is a creation of Emily’s psyche that will fade over time especially as she makes friends and copes with the loss of her mother.
Emily instead withdraws even further from people and a series of bizarre and violent events ensue with Emily insisting that Charlie is the reason behind all of them. As David struggles to deal with the ever increasing tension caused by Charlie, he soon becomes caught up in a situation beyond his control.

The setup for the film is good as your mind races with a myriad of possibilities and outcome. Sadly many of my scenarios, and I suspect most of the audience were better and more satisfying then the conclusion of the film. The film quickly degrades into an abundance of absurdities and situations that seem lifted from the Drama 101 textbook as well as a dozen other and better films in the genre.

While the cast does good work with what they have, it is unsatisfying to see talent like Shue and Janssen reduced to minor supporting characters when they could have brought so much more to the film. Worse yet is De Niro seems to be going through the motions as this brilliant and gifted actor is not given any material that will challenge him and let his brilliant method acting shine.

For the first ¾ of the film it is a mostly enjoyable and intriguing film that does hold your attention. However once the so called surprises of the film are revealed and the film moves towards it’s conclusion, you cant help but think that you have been cheated and deserved a much better payoff for sitting through the first hour of the film. Days after seeing it, I am still stunned at how badly the film ended and how such a good premise and talented cast were horribly wasted on a film that had surprisingly no scares or tension as the audience at my press screening sat largely in silence throughout the film.
My advice, save this for a rental as it is at best, a movie of the week quality film.

2 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach


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More Hide and Seek reviews
review by . October 04, 2009
This is a great horror film and it's not cheesy like most similar types of movies. I don't want to say anything to give the movie away so I will make it short. I have to say this is one of the most unpredictable movies that I have ever seen. Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning were both very believable characters. I bet you can't predict the ending! I would highly recommend this movie.
review by . August 20, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
"Hide And Seek" is okay. It's better than De Niro's other recent thriller, which involved cloning(the title escapes me right now). But in the long run, it's just another run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter thrill flick.     Dakota Fanning is sufficient as DeNiro's daughter who has become rather silent and stand-offish since walking in on her mother's successful suicide attempt. DeNiro moves to the country hoping to bring her out of her shell. Unfortunately for the both of them, Fanning …
review by . July 08, 2005
HIDE AND SEEK is a multileveled film that raises as many questions as it answers. Even the screenwriter Ari Schlossberg and director John Polson seem as though they weren't sure about the mysterious workings of their characters: there are four alternative endings on the DVD, each of which suggests something much different than the final moments of this sleekly drawn suspense thriller. I like that! This is a story that the audience will feel seduced by the odd behaviors of ALL of the characters: …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #112
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


Dakota Fanning--the elfin star ofUptown Girls,The Cat in the Hat, andMan on Fire--trades in her blond locks for a semi-gothic brunette do inHide and Seek. Fanning plays Emily, a young girl whose mother commits suicide. To help Emily through the trauma, her father David (Robert DeNiro), a psychologist, takes her to an isolated house in upstate New York. But instead of healing, Emily gets dark circles under her eyes, mutilates her favorite doll, and develops an imaginary friend named Charlie. In no time at all, things get spooky and David suspects this imaginary friend isn't so friendly.Hide and Seekowes a lot toThe Shining, but whether the creepiness is borrowed or not, there's a decent dose of it (though the twist at the end is unlikely to surprise many viewers). DeNiro does his job with professional gloss, but Fanning carries the movie; she's got the kind of charisma that goes beyond acting ability--that ineffable glow that makes an audience want to watch her.Hide and Seekalso features Famke Janssen (X-Men), Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas), and the ever-dependable Dylan Baker (Happiness).--Bret Fetzer
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Director: John Polson
Screen Writer: Ari Schlossberg
DVD Release Date: July 5, 2005
Runtime: 101 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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