Hide and Seek

There is no doubt that Robert De Niro is a good actor. However, if one looks only at the films he made in the past few years, another story emerges. Out of Meet the Fockers, Shark Tale, Godsend, Analyze That, City by the Sea, Showtime, The Score, 15 Minutes, Meet the Parents, Men of Honor, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Flawless, and Analyze This, there are possibly two decent films. The rest are junk. Hide and Seek is a piece of junk. It is a thriller without any thrills. In fact, one can guess what is going on about forty-five minutes into the film, which means that the rest of the film is just waiting to see how long before the other characters figure it out.

De Niro is David Callaway, who moves to upstate New York with his young daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning, In the Realms of the Unreal, Man on Fire) after the suicide of his wife. He and Emily found her dead in the bathtub, and the experience profoundly affected her. She changed from a happy young girl to a morose goth-kid. Callaway, a psychologist, hopes that their time together away from other distractions will help her recover. However, as soon as they move into their new house, strange things begin to happen. This is one of the first scripts for screenwriter Ari Schlossberg, and it seems like he's never seen any films like this before. In the past few months, The Machinist and The Inheritance, two films with similar stories came out. Emily begins playing with "Charlie," a new friend that David thinks is make-believe.

However, "Charlie" begins doing some pretty crazy things, like recreating the death scene of David's wife. The movie hinges on the identity of Charlie. David believes it is Emily, acting on her latent anger at her father. Director John Polson (Swimfan, Siam Sunset) throws in some red herrings; could it be something supernatural, or the creepy looking guy next door whose daughter died a short time ago? Or something else? Anybody familiar with movies will know the answer, and it's pretty stupid.

Fanning and De Niro both gives silly performances. For De Niro, it means acting like a clueless father. As a medical professional, he should know that one of the first rules is never to treat family members. It takes away the impartiality. His friend Katherine (Famke Janssen, Eulogy, X2) seems to know this. Fanning needs to alternate between looking bored and angry, and pause for effects between sentences. It's hard to see how a spending time away from everybody else will help things. So the script brings in Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue, Tuck Everlasting, Hollow Man) as a potential friend/love interest for David, and her presence annoys Charlie. Loud music cues, horror movie standards, and dark rooms fill Hide and Seek, and the game actually figures into the story. Lame.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated R for frightening sequences and violence.

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