After his wife commits suicide, David Callaway (Robert DeNiro) recognizes how imperative it is to move with his daughter Emily to an ominous, secluded, five-bedroom old house deep in the woods, where the only thing to keep them company is bad memories, creaking floor boards and perhaps a ghost.
Proof that the best way to get asses in seats is to market your piece of shit movie as a horror flick, "Hide and Seek" is actually a semi-violent drama in which the characters would rather squeeze one other’s shoulders and explore their inner demons than do anything interesting.
As far plot advancement, "Hide and Seek" is "The Shining" crossed with a much duller "Secret Window" (didn’t think it was possible, did you?), minus the haunted hotel, blood, dead things or anything else that might scare someone.
Oh, and irritating red herrings. Everyone in this quiet town is sallow, vacant-eyed and suspicious. A Black Cave of Death in the backyard caps this world that exists only to distract audiences from the movie’s twist – a twist that’s so dumb you’ll be too busy dreaming up better scenarios to care.
DeNiro, almost 62 and still a total piece of ass (and as long as he can still lift himself onto a toilet, there’s no reason for him to be in movies like this) enters into a gross relationship with fellow townie Elizabeth (Elizabeth Shue). This actress is still in her late 20s somehow, though two decades ago she played the Karate Kid’s teenaged girlfriend.
Jealous of Elizabeth, Emily begins to wig out, looking forlorn, destroying her toys and talking about her new invisible friend Charlie, who appears to have an evil streak. It seems that together they are crayoning cryptic messages on the bathroom walls and making dead cat soup in the bathtub.
While we’re busy wondering why David’s idea of parenting is begging his 10-year-old to stop melting her dolls’ faces long enough to speak to him, Charlie becomes the big, lame mystery around which the plot drags itself. Who is he? Where does he come from? What does he want?
I’m going to do everyone a favor. I’m going to reveal the "surprise" ending of "Hide and Seek," and I’m going do it without dicking anyone around for two hours.
Does Charlie live in the secret bedroom in the basement? No. Well then why the hell does Emily go down there and cry when something goes "bump?"
Is Charlie the creepy sheriff, or his slobbering sidekick who lurks around in the middle of the night? Nope. They’re only there to stand around and look like pedophiles.
Could Charlie really be a she, the neighbor’s daughter who died of cancer five seconds after David and Emily moved in? No. The neighbors serve no purpose whatsoever, not even to up the body count.
What about if Emily is dead too, and the whole town is just humoring Robert DeNiro? Or maybe DeNiro is dead and Charlie is Emily’s new guardian. Maybe Charlie was a mentally challenged child molester who was locked in the basement by his evil father, and now he needs Emily to relieve his tortured spirit from a state of unrest.
Maybe he’s an evil clown-monster who shits poisonous bagels and wants to suck the eyeballs out of her skull. An hour or so into the film, any of these scenarios would be a delight and a relief.
Well folks, here goes: Charlie is actually… Robert DeNiro! He’s a split personality who’s been terrorizing his daughter without realizing it!
Emily’s hot therapist shoots him in the head, Emily goes to live with her and they live happily ever after – or do they? In the last scene, Emily draws a picture of herself with two faces. Let’s hope it means she was a conjoined twin.