Hide and Seek on DVD
The great thing about being Robert De Niro is that you’ll
always be Robert De Niro.
You can go from being in many of the finest Hollywood films ever
made, to being in movies such as Rocky
& Bullwinkle and now, Hide and Seek.
David Callaway (De Niro) is a psychologist whose wife has just
committed suicide. Thinking that his daughter, Emily (Dakota Fanning)
just needs to get away, he moves to a quaint little town an hour
away from New York City. Before long, Emily makes a new friend in
the form of Charlie, a may-or-may-not-be invisible kind of friend.
When Charlie begins to wreak havoc on David’s life, he starts
to think that “Charlie” is just Emily’s way of
getting back at her father for letting her mother die. But then
Charlie even begins to scare the wits out of Emily, prompting David
to think there may be more to it. So David must find a way to get
rid of their new houseguest before he gets rid of them.
It must be mentioned that Hide and Seek was originally shipped
to theatres separately from its final reel, so as not to give away
its big, twist ending. We can tell you right now that the twist
ending is about as unfulfilling as they come. On one hand, we never
saw it coming, not from a mile away. On the other hand, it’s
because it’s the same twist that has now been used multiple
times and we never fathomed that the filmmakers would actually go
through with it, especially when they tried to make us think it
was something extraordinary. And once the big twist occurs, the
movie still treads on for another 20 minutes or so, making more
classic horror movie mistakes that we can’t mention lest we
give something away. Plus, that gives you an extra 20 minutes to
realize that the big twist not only sucks, but also causes other
parts of the film to not make a lick of sense.
To be fair, the first hour and a bit of Hide and Seek is quite
well done. Director John Polson sets the mood perfectly right off
the bat, then builds tension and suspense very nicely until the
big reveal. Then things go to hell.
De Niro is De Niro, and the man will probably never give a lousy
performance in his life. Hide and Seek is below him. Dakota Fanning
is the most talented young actress of many years, and can actually
hold her own onscreen with such a legend as De Niro. Hide and Seek
is below her.
This is not a film most people would want to waste their time on.
There are plenty of horror films out there that deliver the goods
from start to finish, not just from start to twist. The last 20
minutes of the film are so bad, they will likely make you forget
that the first hour+ is actually pretty good.
For some reason, Hide and Seek did rather well at the box office.
As a result, the DVD presentation is not too shabby. Video is presented
in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the most impressive factor
is the black level. The film is chock full of really dark scenes,
but we can always make out the necessary details (unless we’re
not supposed to). Colors and regular detail look pretty good as
well, although we did notice some touches of grain here and there.
In terms of audio, we get a choice between Dolby Digital and dts
5.1 surround tracks. Both sound pretty much the same. Certain elements,
such as doors slamming or wind blowing manage to fill the room from
all five speakers, but most of the audio uses the front channels
and that’s it. Fortunately, Hide and Seek doesn’t rely
on the usual “boo” tactics to scare us, so there aren’t
any points of really loud noises trying to make us jump (save for
one near the beginning that has a cat jumping out of a closet with
Director Polson, editor Jeffrey Ford and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg
provide an audio commentary that gets boring really quickly. They
discuss the usual filmmaking techniques, casting, pre-production,
and so on, but we can’t help but notice we’re actually
sitting through the entire movie again. The 19 minutes of deleted
scenes expands on the characters a little more, and the optional
commentary explains (very well, actually) why they were cut from
the final film. While we can agree with most of the deletions, some
of them may have helped a little. Just a little.
The 10-minute making-of featurette is complete fluff, with the
cast and crew (sans De Niro) talking about how much they love each
other and the movie. Yeah, okay. “Previs Sequence” is
just a fancy way of saying “storyboard-to-film comparisons,”
which are not usually interesting, with no exception here.
Finally, we get four alternate endings, each of which is special
in its own way. We were most impressed with alternate ending number
three, although it’s hard to say whether or not it would have
improved the final effect of the film. You can watch the endings
by themselves, or you can watch the entire movie again (!!) with
the ending tacked on.
Hide and Seek, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
101 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby
Digital & dts 5.1
Starring Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth
Shue, Dylan Baker
Produced by Barry Josephson
Written by Ari Schlossberg, directed by John Polson
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