Hide And Seek


Rating 3½

Directed by John Polson

Written by Ari Schlossberg

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

The critics didn’t like this “grown-up” horror film. The reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes, 153 in total, result in a derisory 12% rating.

To a certain extent, Robert De Niro suffers from being the “greatest actor of his generation” because any performance that is deemed to be less than the pinnacle of method acting genius and any film considered to be less than a classic of modern cinema is likely to result in snooty disdain – with the suggestion that he is simply slumming it.

Equally, Dakota Fanning was, at the time this film was going into cinemas, starting to be viewed with suspicion by critics, following their initial astonishment at the maturity of her acting (in Steven Spielberg’s TV mini-series ‘Taken’, for example). They were now becoming distrustful of someone this accomplished and successful who was just ten-years-old.

I am not much of a fan of De Niro, but his low-key brooding performance here works very well for me. However, he is acted off the screen by Fanning. The critics might not have liked the film, but that didn’t stop people going to see it. The film grossed $123 million at the box office worldwide.

The film goes for creepy and unsettling and I think it succeeds quite well. There might be too many supporting characters behaving suspiciously in a “moustache-twirling” kind of a way (Dylan Baker’s local sheriff is a particular offender), but the two central performances are really what matters here. Quite simply, Dakota Fanning is so good that she more than makes up for any flaws in the film – which hardly presents an original premise.

The DVD offers four additional endings as well as the one used in the theatrical release. This does suggest either a lack of decisiveness on the part of the director or outside interference by the studio. However, while that could be viewed as an indication of artistic uncertainty, it does seem to be the way of Hollywood films these days.

To date, I have not actually watched any of the alternative endings.

“Face it: Dakota Fanning is scary.”
Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star


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