After Godsend and Meet the Fockers, Robert De Niro continues bumping along the bottom with this sub-Sixth Sense frightener. He plays the new widower with a ten-year-old traumatised daughter (Dakota Fanning) whose imaginary friend Charlie starts muscling in on the domestic action. Is Charlie a manifestation of the daughter’s loss? Or of her antagonistic feelings towards the women (Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue) who are floating around her newly available dad? Or is he just a malevolent spirit found lurking at the back of the Exorcist cupboard? Director John Polson and writer Ari Schlossberg keep us guessing with Kubrickian glides and Shyamalanian plot turns that suggest more than they deliver. Ultimately, Hide and Seek reveals itself to be a horror film that’s seen a lot of 1970s horror films, which might do it for you but not for me. De Niro, meanwhile, trousers the paycheck while Dakota Fanning acts him right off the screen.
© Steve Morrissey 2005