Hide and Seek (2005)

(On TV, November 2015) For most of Hide and Seek, we’re left pondering one crucial question Why would no less than Robert de Niro sign up for a schlocky horror-tinged thriller?  Because, for quite a while, that’s all this film seems to be: After the death of his wife, a widower leaves New York with his daughter for a simpler life in a small upstate town.  But their attempt to heal quietly doesn’t go as planned when strange and upsetting events start happening.  When he daughter starts blaming everything on her imaginary friend, is she to blame, or is there something less natural at play?  So far so familiar: director John Polson is competent but not exceptional in the scares he conjures up and if ne Niro and Dakota Fanning are fine as lead protagonists, Hide and Seek doesn’t quite rake up the memories.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the ludicrousness that awaits in the third act of the film.  As the crazy psychological twist become apparent, we start understanding a few things: Why de Niro would accept a seemingly boring role; why go-for-broke endings can feel as exhilarating as cheap; and why Hide and Seek got such terrible reviews.  By the time the credits roll, the only thing left to do is laugh nervously and say something along the lines of “well, that happened”.  As long as you believe in the infinite malleability of the human mind as demonstrated by crazy psychological thrillers, then Hide and Seek may be of interest.  Otherwise, it may rank high on your list of movies destroyed (or redeemed) by their final few minutes.

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