Hide & Seek opens with a brief introduction, where we meet David Callaway (DeNiro), his daughter Emily (Fanning) and his wife (Amy Irving) who commits suicide. After said tragedy, David decides to move home, not only due to this event, but also because Emily is distraught having seen her mother dead in the bathtub (this isn't a spoiler, this is 5 minutes in). Soon, Emily has an imaginary friend called Charlie, who seems to trigger Emily into a very unusual behaviour pattern. Spooky and disturbing events begin to manifest themselves, all the while Emily is blaming Charlie for these events, but how can an imaginary friend be responsible for this. Soon David begins to find out what's going on but will he keep his sanity?Critically savaged and quite rightly so, this is a truly bad movie which, if you've seen it, makes you wonder why DeNiro picked this after the debacle that was “Godsend”. Where to start with the positives is not going to be an easy task, but the only one I can honestly think of is that it's only 97 minutes long when it could have been much longer. Dakota Fanning is reasonable in this but far from her usual standards, DeNiro is on autopilot, not really showing any side of his former glories here, but simply looking for the pay day. In fact, the only decent cast member is Famke Janssen, whom plays the part convincingly, although in fairness, she's only in the movie for around 10 minutes in total, but at least she comes out of this travesty reasonably unscathed. The plot is in need of an injection of, well, a plot. It tries so hard to be creepy, atmospheric and jumpy, but neither the story, the actors nor the stingers work here. We have to believe in the tale of a girl and her scary imaginary friend, which is fine insofar as we've seen all kinds of ghost stories, from Poltergeist to The Sixth Sense, we can buy into that mythology but it just doesn't feel right here, especially when the first spooky things to happen is a window is open, when DeNiro's character couldn't open it. On the scare-o-meter, that rates somewhere around a zero. It gets spookier too, with a dead cat in the bath, oh yes you can truly feel terrified here. You'd also be hard pressed to not guess the “twist” at the end, indeed not only are the revelations sign posted, the red herrings yell “Red” at the top of their proverbial lungs, but there are four alternative endings here, all available via seamless branching. Not only couldn't they write a decent, coherent, scary movie, they couldn't work out how to end the bloody thing either. So, now we have a scary story that isn't scary and crawls along at a snails pace, which either the writer couldn't fathom out how to end it or test audiences obviously didn't enjoy the ending (well, the endings we'll discuss later). If there's not a warning light on somewhere, there really should be by now.
Usually people say that the final product is greater than the sum of its parts, well when you have such abysmal parts (poor acting, story and a woeful ending), then it really isn't a surprise then that, as initially stated, this was savaged critically. DeNiro should learn to pick better roles, or at least steer clear of anything that's supposed to be scary, because his taste is clearly questionable. I will admit that from the cinema trailer, I thought that this could actually be better than Godsend, DeNiro's last attempt at horror, which in theory wouldn't take much, but this doesn't so much as lower the bar, more completely buries it.
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