A Reel View: Hide and Seek
A Father David (Robert De Niro), a psychiatrist, believes that the only way to accomplish this is to move away from their busy city lifestyle and start fresh somewhere else. The family moves into (what else?) a perfect lakeside house in the country. There are no traces of the big city in this little town. David feels the move is for the best, especially with his stressful job and his daughter Emily's (Dakota Fanning) growing reclusive behavior. Emily has not been the same since she witnessed her mother's death, but she will not discuss her feelings with her father. Emily does, however, share her thoughts with Charlie, her new imaginary friend. David understands that this sort of behavior is normal for children, taking comfort in the fact that she is at least talking to someone. Even David's friend, Katherine (Famke Janssen), a fellow psychiatrist, tells him there is nothing to worry about. Then the trouble starts. Odd occurrences happen in the house, including the appearance of a terrifying message on the bathroom wall. The only explanation David can produce is that Emily is trying to cry out for attention. However, Emily reveals that Charlie is to blame for everything. David, of course, does not believe his daughter. But soon more problems arise, causing David to wonder if Charlie really is imaginary. Unfortunately for "Hide and Seek," the film tries to be too much like "The Sixth Sense." The final 30 minutes of the film is a severe let-down after the first thrilling hour. Director John Polson ("Swimfan") and writer Ari Schlossberg pull the conclusion out of nowhere, using a "Sixth Sense" inspired plot twist that does not even make sense with repeated viewings. The film, however, is saved by the acting talent of young Dakota Fanning. At only 11-years-old, she proves that she can hold her own while working side-by-side with legendary actor Robert De Niro, a feat that most veteran actors still have great difficulty with. The film is also hauntingly photographed by Dariusz Wolski ("The Crow"), adding to the suspenseful quality of the story. Though it has its faults toward the end, "Hide and Seek" is a film to at least view once, if only for the production design and to see Dakota Fanning portray one of the creepiest kids in recent years. But to keep a favorable opinion of the film, it is recommended that you eject the movie after the 60 minute mark. "Hide and Seek" is now available on DVD.