Hide and Seek
starring Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elizabeth Shue, Amy Irving and Dylan Baker
written by Ari Schlossberg
directed by John Polson
This is a scary thriller, along the lines of Bruce Willis’ The Sixth Sense and Nicole Kidman’s The Others. A New York psychologist’s wife kills herself in the bathtub of their home. To get a fresh start the widower takes his young daughter - who saw her mother’s body - to a tiny country town in upstate New York. There the girl, Emily (Dakota Fanning), discovers “Charlie,” a new imaginary friend. The relationship is presented to us as a real person, like a ghost or some kind of Goblinny demon
secretly occupying the house.
The season is winter, or early spring so the trees are all denuded, skeletal branches, various shades of brown and gray. They are in the countryside, so neighbors are few and far between, there is forest all around, and they are in a large, mostly empty house, with lots of echoing wooden floored rooms, small hidden spaces, dark shadows and creaking doors that take old fashioned iron keys to open. It like a haunted house fun ride, and in many ways it reminds me of settings for Stephen King novels.
All the scariest stuff happens at exactly 2:06 a.m.when the father repeatedly wakes up every night to some new spookiness. The title “Hide and Seek,” (“kakurembo” in Japanese) is a metaphor for the horrors hidden in the human psyche, and how we variously conceal and then reveal so much of ourselves that no one really knows who we are - ourselves not excluded.