The problem with a film like Hide and Seek is that
it never truly pays off in a way that satisfies all of the
work and dedication put into setting up the premise in the
first place. The problem with reviewing a film like Hide
and Seek is that in order to truly express why the
film fails to pay off, key aspects and secrets of the film
must be revealed in the process.
life is just not very fair now is it?
Callaway (Robert DeNiro) has plenty to be concerned with.
He awoke at 2:06 a.m. on “the first of the new year”
to find his wife Alison (Amy Irving) soaking in a tub full
of her own blood after committing suicide. His daughter,
Emily (Dakota Fanning), bore witness to the ghastly scenario
and as a result is suffering from a withdrawal brought on
by said trauma. Add to this the simple fact that David is
a psychologist, and you have all the makings for an interesting
character study that just so happens to be embedded in a
decides that a move from the big city may do Emily some
good, because she has too many memories in the Big Apple
that could be impeding her recovery. Despite the cautions
against this decision by his co-worker/student Katherine
(Famke Janssen), David uproots Emily for a fresh start in
value, Hide and Seek has all the makings of yet
another throwaway thriller, but with DeNiro and Fanning
on board you know there has to be something good here.
see, the majority of the film is spent delving into Emily’s
recovery, her change in behavior, and her vast mood swings.
David treats Emily too much like a patient, and you feel
his struggle as a father who feels helpless in trying to
help his daughter work through her loss. The film adds interesting
use of perspective, showing adults looking at Emily from
her perspective, which only adds to the creep-out factor
in many cases. This is especially emphasized in a few scenes
involving Emily and Sheriff Hafferty (Dylan Baker).
Emily begins acting out, we see signs that point to triggers
regarding her mother’s death. When David meets the
aptly named Elizabeth (Elizabeth Shue), Emily’s mood
swings take a turn south, and she begins mentioning a new
friend of hers named Charlie, who slowly emerges as a terrible
influence on the young child.
much further would be criminal to the plot, but to recommend
this film would remain sketchy. The film dedicates a good
amount of screentime to analyzing Emily and studying her
behavior. We see her decline through the eyes of David and
gain feedback on the situation through his journal entries
detailing her progress, or lack thereof. The film does such
an excellent job playing by the rules with its use of pop-psychology
that it’s easy to dismiss the probable outcome developing
in the background.
once again, rises above the material here and plays Emily
as both creepy and sympathetic. We feel for her, and we
wish her father would put down his pen and paper on occasion
and just embrace her as a friend as well as a father. DeNiro
keeps the majority of his more recent ticks and quirks at
bay, turning out a performance that reminds us of the master
beneath the schlock characters he’s been serving up
as of late.
as stated earlier, the film ends badly. The “twist”
is not the issue here, because it’s fairly obvious
as a possibility early on. And yes, several thrillers have
used said “twist” in the past few years with
mediocre results, so why expect anything different here?
The true error in judgment comes in the complete abandonment
of the “rules” the film spent adequate time
establishing early on. Not to suggest that Hide and
Seek could have been a masterwork had this been corrected,
but it does cost the film a few points in the overall enjoyment
like this is the equivalent of an extra value meal. There’s
no nutritional value, and no one expects there to be. But
when you get that bag and the smell of French fries comes
wafting out you get the sense that there might be a few
surprises in store amongst the bag full of junk, causing
the whole meal to rise above expectations. All of this hope
is instantly killed when your first taste of fries reveals
that they are, in fact, cold. There is nothing like cold
fries, and it somehow manages to make the rest of your meal
taste spoiled as well.
Hide and Seek is concerned, the expectation builds
well enough, but the fries are most definitely cold. The
problem is, you find out way to late in the game to do anything