Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth
With the promotion of Hide and Seek, the viewers are
literally told that there's a big secret awaiting for them.
This, in itself, defeats the purpose of having a big secret
or plot twist in the movie. If people know that there's to
be a twist, they'll spend the movie wondering what it is rather
than ending up surprised when it does occur. Even worse is
that fact that one of the current commercials all but tells
the viewer what the twist is. With that said, Hide and
Seek falls into a standard series of plot mechanisms that
even the best cast can not out-act.
After the death of his wife, psychologist David Callaway
(De Niro) moves out of New York City to the upstate, taking
his young daughter and goth-in-training, Emily (Fanning),
with him so that she will recover from the traumatic loss.
Before too long, Emily informs her father that she has a new
friend by the name of Charlie. Quickly, the viewers are led
to believe that the mischievous Charlie is an imaginary friend
and Emily is just acting out. But, as events become more and
more intense, questions are raised as to what or who Charlie
actually is. The director tries his hardest to throw a few
curves at the viewer, but once the final twist is revealed,
most will probably think "Well, it's not like it could have
been anything else."
Direction and pacing is pretty slow and except for the set
of the house, the movie production is fairly minimalist. In
honesty, though, that works in Hide and Seek's favor
as I have a feeling that if there had been more to the production,
things might have gotten to be too much, burdening and bogging-down
the plot and premise. The smaller cast allowed for more focus
on a stronger set of actors - this is no more evident than
in the addition of the off-kilter neighbor whose addition
just feels unneeded.
When it comes to the main cast, De Niro is easily outdone
by Fanning, who basically steals the film from him. In this
film, Fanning establishes a good range of emotions and really
delivers a creepy, morbid performance. De Niro, though, feels
like he's going through the motions. This is no Taxi Driver
or Raging Bull. It's merely a paycheck, so he doesn't
really stretch outside of himself for the role. Even though
their roles ate limited, both Janssen and Shue work wonderfully.
Ultimately, this story wishes it had been written and directed
by M. Night Shyamalan. While this movie may make a good rental,
the huge focus on the fact that it has a twist that you should
be expecting kills the buildup for the story. If anything,
I have to hope that Hide and Seek provides a launching
point for Fanning's career.