Review: “Hide and Seek”

Get ready as I’m about to give away the big reveal of “Hide & Seek”, the latest ho-hum supernatural thriller that relies all too much on its lame big reveal than actual character development. Are you ready? Well the truth of it is – Dakota Fanning is an alien. I mean, how else do you explain those eyes?

Seriously that’s not the twist, but the eleven year old actress is a mighty talented young girl who has now become ‘the child star’ of today, eclipsing the seemingly vanished Haley Joel Osment (expect him to turn up in a few years as a gay twink in “Party Monster II”). However in ‘Hide’ she has a very strange look to her – gone is the beautiful smile and blond locks, replaced with a dark do and a face that looks like she has had wilder nights out than Lindsay Lohan.

Still, the girl remains the sole shining light in this otherwise tedious thriller that makes little to no logical sense as it sets up her and daddie Robert DeNiro in a house amidst a dead forest in a creepy upstate New York community. It’s there the action unfolds as it seems her new and dangerous imaginary friend may indeed be a real person. Could it be the bearded lawyer, could it be the creepy neighbour, or could this little girl just be nuts. The red herrings are thrown all over but they’re not the ones stinking up the place.

The ultimate answer in Ari Schlossberg’s weak script proves predictably stupid and, after 80 minutes of tedious build-up, will yield more groans and grumbles than actual jumps from audiences. The last 20 minutes follow the usual post-twist style attempt at an action sequence involving Famke Janssen who up til that point was literally just a cameo in this. This limp action injection feels like too little too late in a film that builds no real suspense and little in the way of mystery.

Director John Polson tries his best but ultimately fails to yield any excitement out of this even if he does handle the tension well at first. His real saving graces are a vaguely decent sense of atmosphere thanks to Dariusz Wolski’s slick visuals, and a solid casting base. Both Baker and Janssen are forgettable, Shue has a nice but small role, and Irving is superb in her few scenes. However this film is 95% DeNiro and Fanning fighting over who can be the better actor and it’s a closer match than you’d expect.

Fanning for the first time has chosen a part that’s beneath her and yet she handles it with all the grace of a veteran. By contrast DeNiro seems to be channeling the same role he did in the even worse cheap thriller “Godsend” to deliver his performance – nevertheless his talent is above the material. The presence of these two stars help lift this otherwise hopelessly derivative drivel with a twist that will infuriate or ultimately be laughed at. If this goes hiding, don’t go looking for it.