A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a very scary movie with intense peril and upsetting deaths. For those who have dealt with loss, the killer, "Charlie" will be especially disturbing since he wins Emily as a friend when she most needs someone to help her. Issues of trust and the suffering of main characters, including a child, are themes in this movie. Relationships are strained by inability of characters to handle trauma. There is social drinking, infidelity, and implied psychological spousal abuse.
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What's the story?
In this atmospheric thriller, widower Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro) moves his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) to a woodsy town in upstate New York to help her escape the memories of his wife's suicide. In Woodland, they meet the local police officer, the jumpy real estate agent, and a married couple who live next door, trying to cope with the recent loss of their daughter, who was Emily's age. David reaches out to child psychiatrist Katherine (Famke Jannson), who is the understanding adult trying to help Emily and coach David through the grieving process. Emily starts talking about all the fun games she is playing with "Charlie," her imaginary friend. The disfigured dolls, scrawled threats, and dead cat that follow alarm David enough to leave his study, where he spends most of the day. Emily's strange drawings hint that Charlie might be positioning himself to be Emily's only friend, and the mysterious death that follows finally drives father and daughter to action. To say anything more would make Charlie very, very angry.
Is it any good?
HIDE AND SEEK features strong acting, and the film's quiet scenes are more terrifying than on-screen mayhem. Most of the movie comprises a slow but steady-paced thriller with the camera drinking in little Emily's eerie stare and propensity for standing in the doorway whenever something spooky is happening. The last twenty minutes of the movie will satisfy audiences looking for a cathartic terror and a good twist. For some jaded audiences, however, the ending might seem self-conscious, forced, and dragged-out, especially when Charlie's secret is revealed.
Robert De Niro gives a solid but uninspired performance, and Dakota Fanning does a lovely job in this movie, out-acting the grown-ups with breathtaking grace and dignity. She genuinely seems to break, well, just like a little girl during the big showdown.
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