Starring: Robert DeNiro and Dakota Fanning
Director: John Polson
Rating: Three of Ten Stars
Robert DeNiro plays a psychiatrist whose wife commits suicide one night, apparently completely out of the blue. His young daughter (Fanning) is deeply traumatized by the event, so the widower relocates her and himself to an isolated country house so they can both get a fresh start. Soon after they arrive, the daughter's behavior becomes increasingly irratic. Things grow ever worse when she picks up an invisible friend named Charlie... and things get really and Charlie starts doing destructive and violent things.
I've written that capsule summary before, for a different movie. For several different movies, in fact. And most of the times I've written that summary, it's been for a movie that started out promising but fell apart in the end.
And, boy, does "Hide and Seek" fall apart at the end. It starts strong, it builds, it looks like it might make it... and then in the final act it simply collapses.
"Hide and Seek" was another marker along the road to the final death of the thriller, yet another film with a twist-endings that I'm sure the writers and directors think are oh-so-clever, but which really are oh-so-stupid and oh-so-predictable.
In the case of "Hide and Seek," the twist-ending which is supposed to be oh-so-clever falls completely flat because a) it could only occur in a world where EVERYONE has the intelligence of fruit flies, b) it drags on and on and on and on, and c) unless the secret of the twist-ending was already a staple of life in the family's household before the death of the wife [which the movie implies that it was not], the character played by Fanning is old enough that she would have had a different approach to dealing with her father and Charlie than she does in the movie (but that circles back to the 'characters are dumb as fruit-flies' problem).
"Hide and Seek" is another thriller with supernatural overtones that would have been much, much better if the filmmakers had recognized that just because you think you're clever doesn't mean you are. It could certainly have benefited from another draft or two by someone who can actually tell a decent twist-ending story. As it is, a campfire story like "The Hook" is more satisfying.
(I will give Dakota Fanning high marks for being a creepy little kid. She does a great job, and she's worth a full Tomato. Deniro, unfortunately, overacts something fierce.)