Hide and Seek (2005) Film Review

David Callaway (Robert DeNiro) is a psychologist whose wife commits suicide, and his little daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) is sent to a rehabilitation center to recover from shock. David being a psychologist himself, bring Emily back to live with him and moves upstate to start a new life. In their new home, Emily plays with an imaginary friend Charlie, and as the movie proceeds the viewers get stuck with the horrible acts of Charlie. The entity of Charlie is quite strange.

Hide and Seek (2005) Film Review
David Callaway (Robert DeNiro) is a psychologist whose wife commits suicide, and his little daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) is sent to a rehabilitation center to recover from shock. David being a psychologist himself, brings Emily back to live with him and moves upstate to start a new life. In their new home, Emily plays with an imaginary friend Charlie, and as the movie proceeds the viewers get stuck with the horrible acts of Charlie. The entity of Charlie is quite strange.

Hide and Seek (2005) Film Review
Hide and Seek (2005) Film Review

Actors: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving
Directors: John Polson
Writers: Ari Schlossberg
Producers: Barry Josephson, Dana Robin, John Rogers, Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr.

The director maintains a good suspense throughout the film about this character Charlie, and all along the film the audince gets to anticipate about the entity of this suspicious character, and with the advancement of the movie the guess of the audience is bound to change. At the beginning of the story Charlie could have been taken as a fictitious character of an upset juvenile mind, but as more characters come into the scene Charlie can be guessed as the evil spirit of the next door small boy, who died a premature death. The devilish acts Charlie does of course cannot be done by little Emily, as she does not have the muscle powers to perform such acts. David is always an extremely patient father who puts all his efforts in listening to his daughter’s problems, taking notes about her psychological health she has been going through, and consulting her doctor Katherine over the phone. He also make wants his daughter to mix and mingle with children of her age and invites neighbors. But Charlie could not stand any other friends of Emily. Charlie threats to hurt Emily’s friends, kills a cat that comes into the house, writes devilish things on the walls of the shower with blood, horrifies a little boy by damaging his toys, and kills the lady who comes to see Emily and tries to be her friend. But strangely Charlie liked David and Emily’s mom who killed herself some time back was Charlie’s friend. Charlie has also confided in telling Emily that he could have satisfied her Mommy, something that her Daddy could never give her mom. Each time the father comes to know of these things, he tries to make her daughter realize that there is no one by the name of Charlie that exists, and there has to be a logical explanation about everything. There is always another coincidence going with David. Every time something happens his super – sensitive mind wakes him up at 2:06 in the morning to discover Charlie’s notorious activities, and surprisingly Emily is always present at the late hours. But things were going out of hands and cops come to their place inquiring about the dead lady. David freaks out when he sees the deadbody of their visitor in the shower. He decides to hide the body of the woman, just like he had done before with the dead cat – dig it in the backyard wrapped in trash bags. Before he does anything about the body, Charlie takes care of it. David for the first time becomes aware of the presence of Charlie, and trusts his daughter. But when he opens the packed boxes and discovers that his all psychologist’s accessories were unopened and his notebooks remain in the boxes without a scratch ever drawn on them, his psychologically trained mind does not take long to realize that himself is Charlie. By then David has already gone to a point of no return. He has committed several murders being either David or Charlie, or may be a combination of both. He has killed his wife choking her with his stout hands in her sleep because of the adultery with another man. His possessive male mind could not tolerate her wife having the pleasure from another man what he could not give her. He has tried to take some more lives, including the cop’s. And the realization of true entity of Charlie takes him to the edge where he plays starts playing a terrifying hide and seek with his daughter. One cannot really guess what is actually going on till the last few minutes of the movie. Emily who could have been taken by the audience as a mentally retarded child or under the evil spell of some supernatural power is found to be much saner. Katherine, Emily’s doctor at the hospital comes at their place in response to Emily’s phone call, and saves the little girl. Daid gets killed in his sickly scheme of killing everyone else around him. Emily starts a new life with Katherine.

In this film every scene and sequence can have myriad explanations and they are all so much subject to alter with the next  sequence coming on to the screen. Anything is possible till a narrator tells you what exactly is going on! And then every suspense fits into its own place. The movie ends with Emily drawing a picture in her drawing book, a human body with two heads. The viewer is again left with the freedom of explanation. There were a few more alternate endings for the movie picturing Emily’s start over with Katherine at her place where she plays hide and seek with her imaginary friend, and another option featuring Emily been sent back at the rehab to overcome her games with her invisible friend. All these options were very outspoken no doubt, but the one included in the film certainly gives the movie a better dimension.

The schizophrenic nature of David reminded me of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, and the hide and seek between Emily and David transformed into gory reminded me of Ram Gopal Verma’s “Kaun”. “Hide and Seek” is a film that any sensible auidence would love to watch and would enjoy revealing the many dimensions of human mind.

Review by: Shrabanti Basu

Hide and Seek Movie Trailer
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Product DescriptionRobert De Niro and Dakota Fanning keep pulses pounding and hearts racing in this chilling horror hit about a troubled father and daughter tormented by someone – or something – named Charlie, a malevolent entity who may or may not be “imaginary” but is definitely the stuff nightmares are made of!


Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #34142 in DVD
  • Brand: DE NIRO,ROBERT
  • Released on: 2005-07-05
  • Rating: R (Restricted)
  • Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
  • Formats: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Original language: English
  • Subtitled in: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed in: English, French, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Running time: 101 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Dakota Fanning–the elfin star of Uptown Girls, The Cat in the Hat, and Man on Fire–trades in her blond locks for a semi-gothic brunette do in Hide and Seek. Fanning plays Emily, a young girl whose mother commits suicide. To help Emily through the trauma, her father David (Robert DeNiro), a psychologist, takes her to an isolated house in upstate New York. But instead of healing, Emily gets dark circles under her eyes, mutilates her favorite doll, and develops an imaginary friend named Charlie. In no time at all, things get spooky and David suspects this imaginary friend isn’t so friendly. Hide and Seek owes a lot to The Shining, but whether the creepiness is borrowed or not, there’s a decent dose of it (though the twist at the end is unlikely to surprise many viewers). DeNiro does his job with professional gloss, but Fanning carries the movie; she’s got the kind of charisma that goes beyond acting ability–that ineffable glow that makes an audience want to watch her. Hide and Seek also features Famke Janssen (X-Men), Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas), and the ever-dependable Dylan Baker (Happiness). –Bret Fetzer

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