Hide and Seek: K. C. Bailey
Scott Brown
January 26, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hide and Seek

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
101 minutes
Wide Release Date
01/28/05
performer
Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning
director
John Polson
author
Ari Schlossberg
genre
Horror
We gave it a C+

It was really only a matter of time before 10-year-old Dakota Fanning brought her unsettling precocity to the horror genre. And it’s a bit of a waste. Fanning’s eerie, easy emotional precision — matched by large, alien eyes that would look more at home on stalks — has always communicated something piquantly askew just beneath the adorable surface of her characters; applying such a subtle gift to mere spookiness seems like using the Jaws of Life to open a can of beans. But Hide and Seek, despite early signs of higher goals, is a factory-standard box of shocks (it includes a creepy music box, a screaming teakettle, a doomed pet kitty), and Fanning delivers the required demonic catatonia with dutifully freakish grace. She plays Emily, a sweet child who loses first her troubled mother (to a razor and a warm bath), then her posh Central Park West digs when her well-meaning psychologist daddy (made subversively idiotic by Robert De Niro) moves them upstate to begin the healing. Emily soon announces she has a mysterious, unseen friend named Charlie, who quickly reveals a deadly antipathy for Pop and anyone else unlucky enough to drop by. It’s up to Dr. Dad to banish the ”imaginary” fiend, but the obligatory Big Reveal leaves the flick winded. What begins as a clever turn-of-the-screw to enlightened parenting ends in a rote chase. With talent like De Niro and Fanning aboard, it’s a shame the filmmakers weren’t game for more.</p

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