MARCH 16, 2008
Ah, the first movie where the ending is spoiled by the LACK of a particular genre tag. If you notice, there is no “Killer Kid” listing for Hide And Seek, so despite all of the trailer’s (and movie’s) attempts to make you think Dakota Fanning is the killer, that’s simply (and sort of sadly) not the case. I won’t reveal who the killer ACTUALLY is, but it’s really not that hard to figure out. FOX clearly thought differently (they shipped the film without its final reel; those reels were hand-delivered and signed for at each theater in order to prevent the ‘shocking’ twist from getting out), so I’ll play along with their delusion.
DeNiro’s the killer.
To its credit, the movie does a decent job of using clever editing to make it look like DeNiro couldn’t possibly be the killer. For example, there’s a scene of him in his office, writing notes. Then someone is killed. As the body hits the ground, he suddenly awakens from the nap he presumably fell into while working. But if you pay attention, he’s in a different spot entirely, and it’s darker outside. But you will be so shocked by the death that just occurred (which WAS a surprise, to be fair) that you won’t notice the discrepancy, or at least, so the filmmakers (and studio) hope.
Actually, I knew the ending before I watched the film (I forget who spoiled it, but it was when the film was still in theaters – at least I waited 3 years to be a dick), so it was kind of fun to watch how they tried to trick you (beats watching the film a second time). A lot of red herrings are set up, but again, the dialogue is very cleverly written. Early on, DeNiro sees Dakota talking to their neighbor, Robert John Burke. Since Burke was in Robocop 3, DeNiro is instantly suspicious of the guy. Later we find out that he lost his own daughter and Dakota reminds him of her. So near the end, the guy confronts DeNiro, and says “What’s wrong, I just saw you walking out of the woods with a shovel...” And the audience will not think of anything of that, because we too saw DeNiro with shovel, after burying his cat. However, that scene occurred the day before, so why would Burke be concerned now? But before we can process that (again, they hope), DeNiro stabs him in “defense” and there’s a chase scene. Nice work.
Sadly, they screw up the whole multiple personality thing. I’m no expert, but I do know that MPD sufferers don’t have any “memory” of their other personalities, yet the climax seems to suggest that the good DeNiro is remembering all of the things that the bad DeNiro did. This scene also suggests that a lot of what we saw the good DeNiro doing never actually happened (his notebook is completely empty, for example).
In fact, the entire ending leaves a few questions. In addition to the notebook thing, they also suggest that Dakota herself has a split personality, which is a bit odd. So were they both killers? Or is she just a jerk? Well, either way she gets a kiss from Famke Jannsen every morning and night now, so she wins.
I had to laugh at one part of the commentary – the director points out how he believes that you should be able to follow a film even if its on mute. I myself watched the bulk of the film more or less without sound, as my wife was vacuuming/rug cleaning for about 75% of the time I was watching it (hey, my daily movie can’t always be under the best circumstances), so I was watching with subtitles on most of the time. The subs were pretty amusing, because they point out every sound in the film ([“Sighing”], [“Wind blowing”], [“Owl hooting”]). However, the rest of the track is pretty dull, and it’s also noticeably edited, as the 3 (the DP and the writer are there too) are pretty chatty, but there will suddenly be abrupt gaps and then when they resume the topic will be different.
The deleted scenes don’t amount to much (though thankfully they are actually deleted scenes, not “deleted shots in the middle of scenes you just watched”), nor do the “previz” sequences (scenes that were never shot, presented in storyboard form). One exception is a scene of Dakota with a really cute babysitter, which would have been good to leave in the film, as it features a really cute babysitter. There’s also a brief bit of typical EPK cocksuckery (sadly, DeNiro is nowhere to be found – I would have loved to hear him say “I always wanted to work with Robert John Burke” or something). Like the movie itself, there’s nothing particularly BAD about the extras, but at the same time, their existence is largely moot – no one but die hard fans of the film would find any of this stuff interesting, and there’s no such thing as a “die hard fan” of Hide And Seek. It’s a movie you watch, nod at more or less approvingly, and forget all about 10 minutes later.
What say you?