Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Hide and Seek is a 2000s horror-thriller film that I remember seeing and liking when I was a little younger, so I decided to re-watch it for Halloween and see if I felt the same way about it. Interestingly enough, I do not feel the exact same way about this after re-watching it… there are certain details that I liked before that I still like, but my overall feeling is less positive than it was before. The main thing this film suffers from is boredom within the first half. Things do get better in the second half but truly high quality films don’t wait till that point to get good.
Dakota Fanning gives a very impressive lead performance as a traumatized girl who’s just lost her mother and is trying to cope. Fanning’s skills are on display here and I was especially impressed by her because of the heavy and often dark subject matter. She handles the different scenes very well, from the emotion to the overwhelming fear. Famke Janssen also gives a very skilled performance as Katherine, she’s able to be likable and provide a sense of humanity.
Another thing that’s good about this film is that it does contain a twist towards the end that I did not see coming and it makes the last half hour pretty thrilling. The last thing that I want to praise is the handling of Amy Irving’s character – the flashbacks towards the end are chilling and effective, I found that aspect of the story to be interesting. The rest of the film is less than satisfactory, I’m afraid.
Robert De Niro is of course an extremely talented actor who’s given many fine performances, but here… his portrayal just didn’t really work for me. I just don’t think he ever found the right tone. At times, his performance felt odd and towards the end he has to shift in tone, and again, it came across as odd. I’m just not sure this role needed to be filled by De Niro, I think someone else would have done a better job. Sometimes it’s not about whether or not an actor is talented, it’s about whether or not they are a good fit for that particular role. It’s probably hard to imagine that De Niro isn’t fit for this role but I would’ve liked to see someone else.
As for Elisabeth Shue, while she’s lovely and does her level best, she just has a nothing role with very little to do. She plays a friend that De Niro meets and other than briefly meeting him and Fanning and coming over for dinner once… she has nothing else to do so I felt like she was wasted here. Melissa Leo is also wasted here unfortunately. She has one good scene where she gives an impressive performance but her character means absolutely nothing to the story so it’s pretty much pointless.
As far as the script goes, it spends too much time meandering. There really isn’t much of any interest that occurs for the first half and that is simply way too long to have nothing of real interest happen in a film. To the script’s credit, as I previously mentioned, yes it does get interesting and pretty thrilling in the second half, but by then the film has already lost it’s chance to be “great or “pretty good”. Hide and Seek lands firmly in the “Alright” category in my opinion. It’s not abysmal and no I don’t think it’s deserving of the very low 13% score it holds on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s also not high quality.
Hide and Seek features several fine performances and the last half contains interesting thrills and a nice twist, BUT the whole first half is pretty boring and several fine actors are completely wasted.
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