Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving and Dylan Baker

John Polson

Running Time:
101 mins

Out to buy on DVD 25/07/05

"Come out, come out where ever you are"

Trying to cope with the unexpected suicide of his wife Alison (Irving), David Callaway (De Niro) and his distraught daughter Emily (Fanning) move away from New York to the country. As David struggles with his own emotions, Emily is becoming more and more distant, shunning him and anyone who tries to get close to her until one day she tells her father she has a new friend called Charlie. Never seeing him, David concludes that he is imaginary until strange things start happening around the house and when questioned Emily says "Charlie did it".

As the psychological horror movies see resurgence at the box office, does 'Hide and Seek' have what it takes to have you cowering in fear or laughing out loud?

Horror movies that play on the minds of audiences and not just drench them in blood and gore are the ones that arguably, create the most scares and 'Hide and Seek' tries really hard to be one of those films. For the first two thirds of the movie it succeeds, building plot and creating a situation that keeps you on tenterhooks as you try and figure out who or what Charlie is and what his motivations are. This is helped by another performance that is way beyond her years by Dakota Fanning.

As Emily she plays as traumatised child, struggling to cope with the loss of her mother. To deal with this we see her delve into the world of fantasy by creating an imaginary friend to help her come to terms with such a devastating tragedy. At first it seems innocence enough but then her new friend 'Charlie' becomes angry and bitter towards her father and he becomes the focus of Emily and Charlie's wicked games. This works well because of the performance of Dakota Fanning. She portrays both sides of Emily, the scared and frightened side and the bitter and rejected one with the skill of a seasoned professional. No wonder Hollywood always comes calling when the need a strong actor in a child's role.

Robert De Niro is rightly haled as one of the greatest screen actors of all time but his career choices haven't been the best over the last few years. After the heady heights of 'Raging Bull', 'Taxi Driver', 'The Deer Hunter', 'The Godfather Part II', 'Goodfellas', to name but a few, the new millennium has brought us 'Godsend', 'The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle', 'Showtime', 'Analyze That' and 'City by the Sea', hardly a showcase of his talents. What has gone wrong? In 'Hide and Seek' he plays another character that is far beneath his talents. As David, the father trying to figure out what is happening with his daughter, he seems like he is on autopilot. Gone is any modicum of the talent that brought him to the attention of the public and gained him such applaud. Instead we are greeted with a by the numbers performance that never even suggests that this is Robert De Niro in the role.

The good work by Dakota Fanning during the first two thirds of the film is undone by an extremely disappointing ending. After the studio went to unprecedented lengths to keep the ending from the public (delivering the final reel on the day of release), you might have been expecting something that would we devastatingly original but this is not the case in the slightest, far from it. The finale is as clichéd as it could possibly be, offering nothing new and in fact ruining the film. It is as lacklustre and as disappointing as it could be and only confirms that Robert De Niro isn't really trying at all.

'Hide and Seek' is another Hollywood attempt at psychological horror that fails dismally. Only Dakota Fanning comes out of the film well as the rest of the cast, including Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving and Dylan Baker are seriously underused and Robert De Niro is having a day off on screen. In fact in the words of Bananarama "Robert De Niro's waiting…" for his career to take off again.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts surround sound, the movie is presented extremely well.


Feature Commentary by director John Polson, editor Jeffrey Ford and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg
This chatty and informative track comes from three people who are very involved with the movie and slightly overly positive. They explain the origins of the story and how it became what it is from a simple idea of a man coping with a young daughter who is emotionally withdrawn after the witnessing the suicide of her mother. The development of the characters and the twists and turns of the plot are also explained, outlining how the movie came to together. The trio also talk about the multiple ending they came up with. This is a good commentary that is only let down by a lack of self-criticism over some of the failings of the story.

Alternative Endings (7.46 mins)
Entitled 'Happy drawing', 'Life with Katherine' 'One Final Game' and 'Emily's fate', these alternative endings have optional commentary by director John Polson, editor Jeffrey Ford and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg. These endings can also be chosen as the final scenes of the main feature, allowing you to watch the full film with five different outcomes.

Deleted Scenes (18.42 mins)
Entitled 'Trying to make this work', 'Ever been fishing before?', 'Seeing the cave', 'Aren't we going to eat it?', 'Charlie gets jealous', 'He's not going to like it', 'Psychologist by default', 'Sounds like fun', 'It's just red paint', 'I'm waiting for Charlie', 'Afraid of the Dark', 'Looking at the full moon' and 'I don't want to go back', these deleted or extended scenes have optional commentary by director John Polson, editor Jeffrey Ford and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg.

The Making of 'Hide & Seek' (10.18 mins)
Director John Polson, producer Barry Josephson, executive producer Joe Caracciolo Jr, production designer Stephen Jordan and stars Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elizabeth Shue, Dylan Baker, Amy Irving and David Chandler come together to talk about making 'Hide & Seek'. Filled with the usual backslapping the featurette features behind the scenes and promotional interviews with the cast and crew but is only really memorable for the noticeable absence of Robert De Niro.

Pre-Vis Sequences (3.25 mins)
With commentary by director John Polson, he takes you through the storyboards for 'Charlie chases Emily', 'Katherine confronts Charlie' and 'Final moments between David and Emily' and places them into the context of the film.

Previews of 'Melinda & Melinda', 'Flight of the Pheonix', 'Creep', 'Kinsey' and 'Fantastic Four'


Fox have done another good job with the DVD transfer of 'Hide & Seek'. Even though the four alternative endings don't make the movie any better it does offer fans alternative conclusions. The commentary tracks also good, especially as they are provided for all of the extra features as well. Fans should be very pleased with this transfer.


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