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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
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.
This horror/thriller/(maybe)supernatural movie is nothing really
remarkable, or anything that you haven't seen before, but it's quite
watchable. After the suicide of his wife, Robert de Niro's psychologist
character withdraws to an isolated rural location as therapy for his
traumatised daughter. Things start to get creepy when she develops an
imaginary friend who has a decidedly vicious streak.
I've been complaining for some years now that de Niro really needs to pay a bit more attention to the sort of parts he accepts: he's been in far too many stupid comedies. Here we finally see him in a dramatic role, and whereas he pulls it off professionally, it's not really an inspired performance, and you have to wonder where his next classic role is going to come from.
That aside, 'Hide and Seek' is a suitably creepy and dark movie. Its major fault, at least as far as I was concerned, is that its crucial 'secret' was obvious by about half an hour from the end. I still held out hopes that I was wrong, but I think anyone who's seen enough films of this sort would work it out by a process of elimination, and besides, the movie blows its own cover completely a good 10 or 15 minutes from the end, which leaves you with a rather disappointing and predictable run home.
The DVD includes four alternate endings, three of which the directors eventually decided were too 'dark', and that the audience deserved some kind of positive 'reward' after having sat through so much traumatic stuff. I disagree. At least two of the three 'dark alternate endings would have improved the film by giving it a sting in the tail. Good god, go through a mental list of great horror movies, and you won't find many that shy away from endings that are 'too dark'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first saw the preview for Hide and Seek, i thought that it was
just another creepy kid movie. but after going to see it with a clear
mind, i was pleasantly surprised. The movie was well-crafted and
suspenseful with incredible performances from the cast. Dakota Fanning
played a scarred young girl who develops a dangerous "imaginary" friend
named Charlie. Her father(Dinero) moves with her to a remote place out
of the city for a new start after his wife's suicide.
I loved the first hour of this movie. The characters showed true depth and the effects of what Fanning's character had seen were wonderfully shown. The neighbors were introduced and seemed very creepy.
Okey, now to the second hour...Why? Why? The writers had so many ways to go, why did they do the second personality ending? For those who hadn't seen it, the Dad was Charlie. It's not even the lazy routine ending that bothered me, it's that they had so many other choices! one, the couple who lost their child. The father saw him speaking to his daughter. When he went over to their house, he talked to the neighbor's wife who broke down, saying that her husband did something bad. What was that about? Also, the neighbor who was returning a key at 3am who seemed very suspicious. With any of these endings, they could have scared audiences with the modern fear of kidnapping and child abduction. But no, they went with the alternate personality.
This movie leaves the audience wanting their money back and wondering why they didn't see "Earnest goes to the Beach" instead. The writing is inconsistent, leaving loose ends with the neighbor's stories. I suggest watching the first hour and then leave or change the channel (if you're watching it on TV).
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.
After the suicide of his wife, the psychiatrist Dr. David Callaway
(Robert De Niro) decides to move with his traumatized daughter Emily
(Dakota Fanning) from New York to the country to give more attention to
her. In their huge old house, Emily finds a new and violent invisible
friend called Charlie, making David very concerned with her mental
"Hide and Seek" is a good, but predictable thriller. Dakota Fanning has another outstanding performance, on the contrary of in the just-released "War of the Worlds", where she is histrionic. Robert De Niro is too old to act as the father of Emily, but in the end, this movie is enjoyable. The DVD shows three alternative ends, and there is a very dark one, which is excellent, with Emily in an institution. Unfortunately, the commercial end prevails and becomes the "official" conclusion of the movie. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Amigo Oculto" (The Hidden Friend")
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
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 a really creepy psychological thriller directed by
John Polson (Mission: Impossible II, The Sum of Us) and it has one of
the most memorable and most shocking/surprising endings ever. Another
movie that had that creepy-ending thing was Wes Craven's 'They'.
(sorry, no other titles come to mind. but see They, it's extremely
Anyway, Robert DeNiro (Shark Tale, Cape Fear (1991)), for once, did not over-act in this movie. His acting was actually great! And Dakota Fanning just literally blew me away. She is definitely THE BEST young actress that has ever been and that will ever be (I hope I said that phrase right, but if I didn't, I'm sure you know what Ii mean). She did the same thing in War of the Worlds, too. She has a very, very, very, very, very, very, very rare gift of acting. She has such a talent that God gave her. She just passed through the part easily, as if there was nothing too it. Her part as Emily Callaway really creeped me out. She also won an MTV Movie Award for, 'Best Frightened Performance' in this movie. She really seemed actually frightened! Everything else was wonderful in this movie! See Hide and Seek! You won't be disappointed!
Original MPAA rating: R: Frightening Sequences and Violence
My MPAA rating: R: Violence/Terror and Frightening Sequences
My Canadian rating: 14A: Violence, Frigtening Scenes, Mature Theme
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was anxious to see this film, and I honestly enjoyed the first hour
of it. And then...Charlie was revealed, and I was so angry I considered
walking out of the theater.
Not every horror movie has to be "The Exorcist" or "The Sixth Sense." Not every movie--horror or otherwise, has to be intelligent. With a little bourbon, even "Night of the Lepus" can be fun. Twists in a horror film are great--if executed correctly. And "Hide and Seek" misses the mark completely.
For one, it asks us to be stupid and go along with the second half of the film. The second half of the film doesn't add up, nor does it make us say, "I should have seen that coming," as films such as "Sixth Sense" and "The Others" did. There's no equation for this movie--none. In the end, I had no idea what the movie was really about (that drawing in the final scene--what IS that? What does it say?) The only thing good about the movie was the performances by every member of the cast. Hey Amy Irving! Good to see you! Same for Elisabeth Shue. Dakota Fanning is very talented, and we should keep our eyes on her. But the cast isn't worth the money.
Save your dollars for Blockbuster if you're really curious. Again, I was hopeful at 7pm this evening, and very angry two hours later. Little plot, no resolution. The film descends into utter nonsense. A true disappointment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
De Niro, though he gives a nice performance, is not exactly in
overdrive, which probably explains why this film is released in
February instead of the blockbuster periods. It is a nicely-cast and
shot film, and De Niro avoids any temptation to munch scenery. The film
has a Sixth Sense-type surprise, but just doesn't have the "oomph" of
that movie. The scenes involving the neighbors are confusing and
perhaps there was sub-plot that got cut. You might also say that the
ending was telegraphed to some degree. I wouldn't go if you dislike
violence against women (or cats). Won't be at the top of De Niro's
Rated R (dead kitty; gratuitous shower curtains and sinister facial expressions).
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