ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  jay polson

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  horror

LENGTH  -  105 minutes

RELEASED  -  28 january 2005

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  hide and seek

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $50,000,000
hide and seek - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from hide and seek at

buy the dvd from hide and seek at

as a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife's suicide, his daughter finds solace -- at first -- in her imaginary friend.

at the tender age of 10, star dakota fanning already has 18 feature films to her credit or in production and over 20 guest appearances on various television series.


picture from hide and seek

picture from hide and seek

picture from hide and seek

picture from hide and seek

picture from hide and seek


one out of four possible stars

There is an unwritten rule in enjoyable cinema and that would be... (highlight the space below to reveal spoiler text)

you never kill the family pet!

The makers of Hide and Seek sufficiently abandoned this law of feature film making and have, in the process, also made a film that benefits from a greater degree of acting talent than its script really deserves. Although his recent cinematic choices can doubtless be questioned by many of his fans, Robert De Niro is nevertheless an impressive and affecting actor on screen. As is his small co-star in this film, the Lilliputian Dakota Fanning. Together they make a believable father/daughter duo, but in the realm of horror and suspense filmmaking, the script just doesn't cut it. Cliché is the order of the day for this film.

After the death of her mother, Dakota's character, "Emily," is brought to upstate New York by her father, "David," (De Niro's character). When they arrive in the little town in the middle of nowhere their new residence is your standard creaky house that sports any number of classic, cliché horror film standards (creepy basement, anyone?). As they settle into life at the creepy house, several red herrings and other assorted dead-end subplot characters are introduced including a weird sheriff, a grieving couple living nearby and other distractions.

But without really giving anything away, it's safe to say that people who simply pay attention to what they see on the screen will have absolutely no difficulties in ascertaining the "whodunit" of this film. The clues aren't really clues at all. They're obvious pieces to a puzzle that is far too simple to figure out. Just take away all the distractions and the answer will practically slap you as it manifests well before the end and the climax of the film. It is possible that less attentive members of the audience, specifically those who are not fans or frequent viewers of this genre might get caught up in the mystery of it all and might indeed find the conclusion a surprise.

If one were being generous, one could offer that knowing the ending doesn't always completely ruin the theatrical experience. But in order to truly find one's self carried away with the general theatrical experience, other elements such as performance, cinematography, and dialogue would have to trump the lack of surprise regarding the plot. In terms of performance, the lead casting was well done and the supporting characters are moderately successful. Famke Janssen, playing De Niro's psychiatrist colleague, plays her role with as much energy as is possible, though at the end of the film, there's no real reason for her arrival upstate at the scene of the climax. She just kind of... shows up.

Elisabeth Shue, playing neighbor "Elizabeth," is likewise sufficiently utilized, though she can't seem to overcome the staid and predictable dialogue the script offers. Like her co-stars, Shue must content with a role where the visuals of the film (like the creepy clichés) are more important than what she actually says. This is a very visual film and the clues of it all are not revealed by character action so much as they are through simple static scenes where it is incumbent upon the viewer to pinpoint the "clue" in that specific scene.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski was probably the busiest member of the cast, as so much of the film's plot is dependent on what the camera shows the audience. The sound designer and foley artists were probably as equally busy given the overabundance of creaks, snaps, and groans required for the audio track. Regarding additional technical aspects such as production design and set decoration, each crew members looks to have taken a secure hold of the genre and created a professional product, even if no element in the film looks intensely creative or original. But, in the grand scheme of it all, it becomes increasingly clear over the course of the movie that it was not the filmmakers' intent to create something, "as you've never seen it before!"

It's difficult to decide what type of viewer would most benefit from a viewing of this film, because in its attempt to create a well fashioned example of a horror or thriller film, they might have inadvertently made the experience less surprising and enjoyable for fans of the genre. But in that same regard, the filmmakers have made such an effort in creating that creepy look that people who wouldn't otherwise watch a film like this probably wouldn't choose to see the film anyway, given the many potentially squirm-inducing sequences of the film.

Hide and Seek masquerades as a film deserving of more respect than an average January feature film release, but seems deserving of that regarding only because of its casting. Viewers will find the production a professional one, but an intelligent can't overcome the overall mediocrity of the picture. Simply stated, the film is just not as enjoyable as it should be. Sure there are the various creaks and cinematographic techniques thrown at the audience by the filmmakers, but when the credits start to roll, it might well be a relief to viewers. The film actually jumps out of the starting gate with enough finesse, but it trips up in the first turn, leaving the audience to wonder what went wrong when the filmmakers put the whole thing together.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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