Thursday Night Movie Club
Hide and Seek
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: January 28, 2005

Director: John Polson
Robert De Niro
Dakota Fanning
Famke Janssen
Elisabeth Shue
Amy Irving
Dylan Baker
Melissa Leo
Robert John Burke
Molly Grant Kallins
David Chandler
Stewart Summers
Jake Dylan Baumer
David Callaway
Emily Callaway
Alison Callaway
Sheriff Hafferty
Mr. Haskins
Disturbed Boy
Hide and Seek poster.
Hide and Seek graphic

Hide and Seek is not one of Robert DeNiro's best films. It is not bad, but it is not great. The real star here is child actress Dakota Fanning who is really charged with carrying this movie.

At the beginning, Dr. David Calloway, psychiatrist, wakes up from a bad dream just as the clock turns over to 2:06 a.m. His wife has not joined him in bed. He goes to search for her. He finds her lying in a bloody bathtub, dead from an apparent suicide.

During the following weeks, his daughter, Emily, is not responding well to any treatment. She has become a very quiet, introverted person. David decides that the best thing for his daughter is a complete change of scenery. Against the advice of Katherine, another psychiatrist, he moves his family to a secluded town in upstate New York.

The townsfolk in this village all appear to be straight out of a David Lynch film. They are friendly on the surface but they all act just a little bit odd. Nothing you can put your finger on, just creepy. Just what kind of place did David move his daughter? This question will be answered.

On their arrival in the village, Emily follows a butterfly down a path into the woods. She comes across a small cave. Soon thereafter, Emily begins drawing pictures of the cave depicting her with a tall man.

All attempts by David to bring his daughter out of her shell fail. Emily blatantly refuses to make new friends, even with other children. David becomes suspicious when Emily calmly replies that she doesn't need any new friends as she has already found one, a mysterious man she calls Charlie. David tries unsuccessfully to learn the identity of Charlie. Since the townsfolk all seem odd, David begins to suspect that one of them is Charlie.

Meanwhile, David begins to have dreams of his ex-wife. He wakes up at precisely 2:06 a.m. He hears the sounds of water dropping into water. He investigates. He finds the bathroom exactly the way it was on the night his wife died. He pulls back the shower curtain to find a mysterious message scrawled in red crayon in Emily's handwriting. Emily claims that it was Charlie who did this.

David and Katherine both suspect that Emily is imagining Charlie, that he doesn't exist. But David's dreams and the 2:06 a.m. messages continue to haunt him. When a friend of his disappears and also ends up dead in his bathtub, David gets mad that Emily keeps insisting that Charlie is doing this. When the body disappears, David realizes that Charlie is a real person, since Emily is not strong enough to move an adult corpse.

The remainder of Hide and Seek is about discovering the identity of Charlie. Charlie's identity is not much of a shock. The story telling is similar to TV's "Murder, She Wrote" in that the identity of the killer is usually the best actor hired for that episode. Technically, things go a bit wrong as the body disappears but leaves no trace behind. There should be bloody water on the floor and a trail leading to where the body is kept.

Denier seems to be in a current mode of making as many pictures as he can. Since he is so busy, he merely goes through the motions, letting his talent do the work without really putting any thought or effort into the project. Dakota Fanning is quite good playing Emily. Emily knows who Charlie is but she is afraid to tell her father. She is very good portraying the suffering Emily. The remainder of the cast, although quite gifted actors, do not have much to do other than move the plot along.

Hide and Seek is an interesting movie, fortunately, not very long. It is mildly suspenseful but never really puts us on the edge of our seats. It's an O. K. enjoyable movie but nothing more.