Did you grow up playing with an imaginary friend? Perhaps a pretend sibling or a pet? Maybe a big hairy muppet like Mr. Snuffleupagus that only you could see? Hopefully he or she was nothing like Charlie. He's rather temperamental, and when he's unhappy, people have a way of … dying.
That's the potentially scary premise to the decidedly non-scary Hide & Seek, a film written by newcomer Ari Schlossberg and directed by John Polson, who previously helmed 2002's non-thrilling teen thriller Swimfan. Ten-year-old Dakota Fanning (she with big blue eyes from Man on Fire) plays Emily Callaway, a seemingly well-adjusted only child living in Manhattan with her parents David (Robert De Niro, Meet the Fockers) and Alison (Amy Irving, last seen on TV's Alias).
Things take a tragic turn when Alison inexplicably commits suicide in the bathtub one night. Emily understandably becomes joyless and detached, so the bereaved widower (a psychologist, of course) decides it's best to isolate his daughter from painful memories (and friends and familiar environment) by moving upstate to make a fresh start while deepening their bond—rrrright. They buy a house in the small town of Woodland, populated by a few well-known character actors with vaguely creepy demeanors.
Enter Charlie, Emily's new unseen companion after moving to Woodland. At first David believes Emily is simply expressing her grief through an imaginary friend. But then the mischief begins to unfold, elevating at an alarming rate. Is Emily responsible for these violent acts? Could they somehow be related to the mysterious neighbors who lost their child last year? And what's with the dark cave in the woods? If Charlie is real, who or what is he?
This movie has more red herrings ...1
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Hide and Seek
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