banner image

:: Hide and Seek

Stalwart screen master Robert De Niro (The Godfather, Meet the Parents) teams up with child acting prodigy, Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam, Man On Fire) in a creepy thriller about a little girl and her imaginary friend.

David (De Niro), a psychiatrist, must help his young daughter Emily (Fanning) cope with her mother’s suicide while also dealing with his own grief. They move to the country for a fresh start but Emily’s behaviour is increasingly withdrawn and antisocial. At the same time, she starts talking about an imaginary friend called Charlie. Charlie likes Emily’s favourite game, Hide and Seek, but his favourite game is far more sinister. David doesn’t want to believe his angelic daughter is responsible for the gruesome events unfolding. But if its not her, then who is ‘Charlie’?

Dakota Fanning is a scary little girl in this film. She gives a measured performance that keeps you guessing as to what her complex little character is thinking. It’s a more difficult role than she has attempted previously but she has no trouble with it. De Niro is as great as you might expect, but the role doesn’t break any new ground for him. David has elements of many other De Niro characters and just isn’t particularly fresh. In fact, the same could be said for the entire film.

Had Hide and Seek been made five to ten years ago, the twists might have surprised, but now they seem almost formulaic. One interesting device this film does use, is that it was made with alternate endings. Both versions are reportedly screening in different cinemas around Australia and New Zealand, so its theoretically possible to ‘collect the whole set’ if you’re keen enough to see it twice.

Inconsistencies in the plot are probably its biggest problem, creating confusion and making it hard to get lost in the action. In all, Hide and Seek is a fun, scary film, in which the writers would rather have the audience jump out of their skin than understand the story.