Robert De Niro as David Callaway
Dakota Fanning as Emily Callaway
Famke Janssen as Katherine
Elisabeth Shue as Elizabeth
Amy Irving as Alison Callaway
Dylan Baker as Sheriff Hafferty
Melissa Leo as Laura
Robert John Burke as Steven
Molly Grant Kallins as Amy
David Chandler as Mr. Haskins
The mind is a deep a complex organ that science still struggles to fully comprehend, despite the countless hours of research and study that have been expended in unlocking the mysteries contained within.
In the new thriller “Hide and Seek”, audiences are introduced to Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro), a psychologist who is struggling to help his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) after the suicide of her mother. David believes that the best option is to move from New York City to a quiet area upstate where he can focus on being a father to his daughter, who has become withdrawn despite intense counseling. Despite opposition from Emily’s therapist and family friend Katherine (Famke Janssen), David and Emily relocate to a scenic and quiet location an hour from the city.
At first everything seems to be going well with the move and David meets an attractive young lady named Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue), who watches over a little girl for another member of her family. Thinking that a friend will snap Emily from her state, David encourages Elizabeth to come to the house.
David is convinced the addition of a friend will encourage Emily to stop talking about an imaginary friend named Charlie who seems to have preoccupied the little girl’s time. David is convinced that Charlie is a creation of Emily’s psyche that will fade over time especially as she makes friends and copes with the loss of her mother.
Emily instead withdraws even further from people and a series of bizarre and violent events ensue with Emily insisting that Charlie is the reason behind all of them. As David struggles to deal with the ever increasing tension caused by Charlie, he soon becomes caught up in a situation beyond his control.
The setup for the film is good as your mind races with a myriad of possibilities and outcome. Sadly many of my scenarios, and I suspect most of the audience were better and more satisfying then the conclusion of the film. The film quickly degrades into an abundance of absurdities and situations that seem lifted from the Drama 101 textbook as well as a dozen other and better films in the genre.
While the cast does good work with what they have, it is unsatisfying to see talent like Shue and Janssen reduced to minor supporting characters when they could have brought so much more to the film. Worse yet is De Niro, who seems to be going through the motions as this brilliant and gifted actor is not given any material that will challenge him and let his brilliant method acting shine.
For the first 3/4 it is a mostly enjoyable and intriguing film that does hold your attention. However once the so-called surprises of the film are revealed and the film moves towards its conclusion, you can’t help but think that you have been cheated and deserved a much better payoff for sitting through the first hour of the film. Days after seeing it, I am still stunned at how badly the film ended and how such a good premise and talented cast were horribly wasted on a film that had surprisingly no scares or tension as the audience at my press screening sat largely in silence throughout the film.
My advice, save this for a rental as it is at best, it’s a movie of the week quality film.
Gareth Von Kallenbach is the author of “Skiewed and Reviewed 2004 Back for More.” For more information on the book, click here.