by Laura Kyle
Hide and Seek could fall into the category of those “well, what was the surprise ending?” movies – and if one chooses to overlook the film’s 10-year-old star, then indeed – it falls with a loud, unoriginal thump.Still, the last ten or fifteen pages of Ari Schlossberg’s script are not why you should go see Hide and Seek. The more you think about that, the less sense the movie makes, and the more cheated you’ll feel. But the fact of the matter is: the $8 was worth it. I bought the characters, I bought the story, and I didn’t take a bathroom break.
"Woa, did a little girl just steal a movie from Robert De Niro?"
Let's be frank, Hide and Seek is manipulative.
However, it “hid” its stupidity and absurdity so well, burrying it all under A+ performances by a tremendous cast, to the point that I choose not to “seek” it all out in this here movie review.
Sure, the end is a cop-out that also betrays the movie and its characters in more ways than one. And sure, the characters do really dumb things. Plus, the plot, standing alone – even without the 'twist' ending, is comically contrived.
But it's rare to go to a scary movie these days, and actually be scared. The evidence is hardly circumstantial: White Noise, The Grudge, Gothika, 20% of the flicks on the Blockbuster new release wall, the list goes on and on – Alfred Hitchcock made it look too easy I guess and fooled inept filmmakers into believing they could pull off the same tricks. You can't, quit trying already!
So finally M. Night Shyamalan comes along, sufficiently wigging us out, and simultaneously telling a good story with The Sixth Sense. But little did we know, Shyamalan was only two movies shy of The Village.
So, forgive me for being generous to Hide and Seek, which is a refreshing thriller – well acted, competently written (though this screenplay feels more like a hurried prank than a well thought out mystery), and you know what? It’s kind of creepy. So move over Haley Joel Osmant, there’s a new “scary kid” in town, and her name is Dakota Fanning.
Fanning isn’t the sweet little blond girl you may remember from I Am Sam, or Man on Fire. In Hide and Seek, she’s a brunette (but her hair’s not long and stringy like that of the girl in The Ring), who in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide, has her psychologist father Robert De Niro wondering if a straightjacket would look nice on her. She develops an eerie friendship with her “imaginary” friend Charlie and embarks on a sinister game that is far from child’s play. (Plot subject to change in last quarter of film.)
There are ominous messages written on the walls, little Dakota draws frightening pictures, there’s a body count, and lots of red herrings (not mysterious ones though, more like the stuff of drinking games), etc… however director John Polson, with the help of John Ottman’s take-no-prisoners score (Ottman was fully responsible for the frights in Gothika), does an unusually good job at keeping a moviegoer on the edge of his or her seat, though he seems to go a little overboard with the foreshadowing, which almost overshadows the rest of the film...
But really the film relies on Fanning, who is simply a force to be reckoned with. And Robert De Niro learns this the hard way.
De Niro’s decent enough, despite his character being brain-dead (but if he were to play an intelligent, believable man, Hide and Seek would never have escalated to such silly proportions, and what fun would that be? You see, De Niro’s just taking one for the team.) But all eyes are on Fanning. Each scene she’s in might as well be stamped in the lower right hand corner with her name, because she truly owns Hide and Seek.
Whether the audience is frightened by her or for her (depending on its take on how the movie will eventually go down), Fanning is nothing short of captivating. And how she is able to navigate such a ridiculous plot and come out on the other end, without a single scratch, is beyond me.Oh, and by the way, if you’re wondering what the Big Secret is… just ask yourself: What do Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, and Russell Crowe have in common?
Normally I wouldn’t ruin an ending, but Hide and Seek kind of does that all by itself.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11471&reviewer=369
originally posted: 01/29/05 20:13:52