Do you like games? I like games, and I know one, too. It’s called HIDE AND SEEK. You know it? Good.
Ten Mississippi: HIDE AND SEEK stars Robert DeNiro as David Callaway, a widowed, passing-middle-aged psychologist whose passing-middle-aged wife Allison (Amy Irving) kills herself in a bathtub at 2:06am, five minutes into the movie.
Nine Mississippi: Dakota Fanning stars as Emily Callaway, David’s young daughter who understandably goes catatonic at the sight of her mother floating in a bath of her own blood. I’m not sure, though, if it explains why she dresses and acts like the world’s youngest Goth teenager for the rest of the movie.
Eight Mississippi: To start fresh, David takes Emily away from the horrors of the big city and into tree-lined quiet backwoods town of Woodlawn, NY (pop. 2206…number connection?!?!). Did I mention that Emily’s parents were passing middle-age while she was still pretty young? Just checking.
Seven Mississippi: In the country, funky things begin to happen to the Callaway clan. Emily mopes and grows detached (freaky kid-drawing alert!). David ineffectively tries to help. Emily responds by making play-dates with her new imaginary - but equally murderous – friend, Charlie.
Six Mississippi: Dolls heads mysteriously get disfigured. Emily says its Charlie’s fault. Disturbingly personal messages appear in the bathroom scrawled in red crayon in child’s handwriting. Charlie’s fault. The family cat bites it. Guess whose fault it is? Yup, Charlie’s. David is distraught.
Five Mississippi: Elisabeth Shue plays, well, um, Elisabeth, the local, cute, divorced thirty-something townie who has a thing for David. A passed-middle-aged guy whose wife offed herself and has a daughter that looks like she stepped out of a bad Marilyn Manson video? What, was my number not listed?
Four Mississippi: The Callahans’ country neighbors are a bit odd; the town sheriff is spooky; heck, even the real estate agent who sold David the house is shady and all the while, Katherine (Famke Jannsen), Emily’s confidant and doctor and David’s protégé, senses that something might be amiss. Tension builds, albeit slowly.
Three Mississippi: The twist almost-ending. A very interesting twist which I, for one, did not see coming. I use “almost-ending” because there are still about twenty minutes of movie that follow it. A good twist ending should deliver a knockout blow that sends you reeling out of the theater. In this case, the big reveal renders the final act inevitable and lifeless.
Two Mississippi: Removing, for a sec, my tongue from digging aggressively into my cheek, I’d like to say that HIDE AND SEEK is a decent thriller/horror outing. Cliché-filled horror is not all bad if it serves to create some building suspense, a few chills and a good twist almost-ending, all of which appear here. Plus, Ms. Fanning’s acting chops are more than a match for Method-maestro DeNiro; in most scenes she is given more room and emotion to chew on. It is, however, also the kind of movie that the more you may think about afterwards (say, for example, if you are writing a review about it), the less logical sense it makes.
One Mississippi: If you dig this genre, but are having a hard time clawing through the haze of horror schlock that seems to get released this time of year, then look-up the times that HIDE AND SEEK is playing at your local megaplex and-
Come out; come out; wherever you are!