Hide and Seek
Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue
Directed By:
John Polson

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.

- - Vane

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