DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Hide and Seek - DVD Review

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It's easy to disguise eleven year-old Dakota Fanning's silky strawberry tresses under a goth-black wig. But one might think that hiding her remarkable acting talents would be a bit more difficult. That's exactly what has happened with Hide and Seek. Fannning plays a character named Emily who finds her world shattered after the suicide of her mother (Amy Irving). Understandably, Emily withdraws into an emotional shell and never utters much more than a few sentences for the remainder of the film. What isn't understandable however is the choice to waste the talents of one of Hollywood's hottest and most accomplished child actors in a role that calls for her character to walk around in a wide-eyed trance-like state. It might have made more sense to enlist the services of an up-and-comer with a less known reputation for charming the pants off anyone who watches her perform.

Borrowing a similar set-up to many earlier horror plots, Emily's father, David (Robert DeNiro) moves her to a new home in a rather isolated community in hopes of avoiding any reminders of their traumatic event. But shortly after moving into their new house, Emily develops an imaginary friend named Charlie. She blames a recent spate of horrific and deadly events on Charlie, but despite Emily's insistence, her father isn't quite ready to believe that Charlie is a real person as she adamantly insists.

As events play out, it becomes evident that the entire story is evolving for the sole purpose of delivering the big unexpected twist. But by the time the deception finally arrives, not only have we already figured it out, but also the film has worn out its welcome with an endless tirade of loud noises, rapid jump cuts, shattering glass, and I'm not kidding here - the obligatory cat that leaps from behind a closed door. Director John Polson and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg should know from the films they've emulated, that true psychological horror comes from what we feel rather than from what we see or hear.

The performances in Hide and Seek are the best things about the film. However, a successful psychological horror film should lean more on the creativity of its storytelling than its acting. Everyone involved does exactly what is asked of them, but they just aren't given much to work with here. Most of the dialogue is short three or four word sentences delivered more for plot advancement purposes than to enlighten the audience on the psychological trauma of a family shattered by a terrible tragedy. The concept that true terror comes from within one's own imagination goes unaddressed as we are never given a chance to guess, imagine or speculate. Everything is spoon fed to us in little chunks of objectivity.

All in all, Hide and Seek would be better suited as a legendary ghost story told to gullible little children around the campfire, than as a horror plot for a major motion picture. Its twist is way too predictable and the film's final half hour is just simply terrible. Polson seems so interested in preserving the surprise ending that he glides through the set up without paying much attention to the story's details.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; making-of featurette; cast and crew interview; alternate ending.

* Commentary: With director John Polson, writer Ari Schlossberg and Editor Jeffrey Ford.
* Featurettes:
o Making of Hide and Seek - 10-minute featurette
* Alternate Endings (with optional commentary):
o Happy Drawing
o Life with Katherine
o One Final Game
o Emily's Fate
* Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary): 14 scenes totalling 19 minutes that didn't make the final cut.
* Storyboards.

Number of discs: 1 - Region 1 Keepcase packaging.


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