This is a movie that really tried to grab you from the moment the marketing hit. A film that was shipped to the cinemas for its opening without an ending, an ending which was shipped the day before the showing just to ensure no one knew how the film would really end. It was being sold on a big twist that you’d never guess.
Luckily, until I saw the movie the other night, I’d managed to stay away from the revelation. So I watched it with fresh eyes.
Let’s go straight for the twist then, it’s good. I didn’t guess it at all. Well that’s not true, I did guess it, but when you’re pointed in every direction then you will end up wondering about every possibility. You see in a thriller that tries to surprise you mis-direction plays a huge part, and in the case of Hide and Seek they turn from the traditional idea of taking you in one direction only to whip you back in the opposite direction. What they do is not to take you away in one direction, they point you in just about every possible one so you have no idea which could be right.
I loved this. It’s very clever. The hints are gone and you’re left totally guessing. Yet it did have a negative affect. When the revelation comes there’s not a big moment of surprise, and I think it’s because you’ve not been led too far from the truth, because you’re pointed in multiple directions you haven’t been taken that far away to be whipped back to the surprise.
There’s also a bit of confusion in the moments of that revelation too, visually it’s not clear enough until the final moment, I do feel that (without giving it away) if they’d film it a bit more open and recognisable you would have had a much longer time of the surprise than the short moment that you end up with.
So the revelation is superb, but it’s short and I found it more of a “aaah” moment than a “oh my god!” moment. The ending though is intense, there’s the final scenes with the young girl and the flashing torch which really did get to me, it was one of these scenes I’ll bring up in years to come when I’m asked about the top creepiest moments in cinema.
There are a number of big stars in it, another nice misdirection ploy. The first thing that has to be said is that Dakota Fanning is stunning in this movie. She gives a performance that I’ve rarely seen in adult actors. Totally unnerving and amazingly creepy, you’d think she’s been on stage all her life performing in Shakespeare! It’s also interesting that she totally out classes Robert De Niro.
I haven’t found De Niro a convincing actor in a long time, and not belonging in the class that he has been placed in on the merit of his previous work. Now this is my view, yours may differ, but in this movie although he does give a good performance, it’s not to the level of Fanning. There’s a degree of distance about the character De Niro plays, and he seems inaccessible, a problem I feel when he’s playing a Father. He didn’t pull me in and make me believe in him.
Famke Janssen is absolutely gorgeous, and to boot she’s the second best actor in the movie. Her portrayal of fear is utterly convincing, and she shows without a doubt she’s much more than an X-Woman, and what a woman! Elisabeth Shue is another beautiful actress, but unfortunately she is very under used and her character unexplored. It does feel as though she’s added for a simple plot vehicle, this too can be said for the equally strong performance of Dylan Baker, another missed performance.
The rest of the movie is set at a really good pace, although at times it seems against the building of the story and some of the characters. Yet the pace keeps up and doesn’t give you either time to settle with a possible suspect or to settle at all. You’re continually questioned and fooled, and all the time the movie is reeling you in step by step.
There’s a slightly off green tinge to the picture throughout the movie, something that at times is quite distracting. Forgetting this the picture is sharp and the colours strong and autumnal, and particularly well done during the night time scenes outside.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1 \ DTS
The DTS soundtrack is very sharp, and one would expect that it could easily be overused, however it’s not. It’s very subtle but the audio does make use of the DTS track and the full range of the speakers to help in unnerving the audience.
Presented: Four alternative endings, Audio commentary, Making of, Fourteen deleted scenes with commentary, three pre-visualisation sequences and commentary
The alternative endings are very interesting, and moreso because I thought the perfect ending for the movie was one of these and not the ending used in the theatrical version. They are all available to watch as a complete movie, or on their own, and each carried with an commentary from the Director, Writer and Director of Photography. It’s interesting to hear the makers take on the different endings, and how they can’t even agree which is the better. It’s interesting that the scene I think is the better ending is the original ending to the movie, but then those dreaded test screenings proved it too dark…wrong.
The Audio Commentary itself is good and very incisive, but it’s not so much about the technicalities of each scene, it’s more about the overall process of making the movie and how to keep the tension building and the focus away from the revelation. It’s really annoying the way they talk over each other and continually say “you know”. No, I don’t, it’s for you to tell me, that’s why I’m listening!
They talk of the different drafts through the writing and filming process, as well as the actors and their processes. It’s very interesting to hear the process of De Niro’s acting, when he would and wouldn’t experiment in front of the camera. However through all this there is a huge feeling that the makers are more concerned about how to create an engaging thriller, and the rules of making a scary, hidden twist of a film. So you do come away with the feeling that they made a perfect, by the numbers thriller, but left out a lot of soul and feeling.
The Making of is your average behind the scenes with a few words from some of the cast. The deleted scenes are interesting, but nothing spectacular, although the addition of a commentary and titles for those actors cut out of the movie are a nice touch. The pre-visualisation scenes are more interesting aspects of the movie making process but add little to the overall experience.
It’s a very good thriller with an excellent unseen twist, yet I don’t feel it delivered. For all the build up for a moment of realisation just seems a shame. Add to that the fact that one of the poorer endings was chosen for the theatrical movie and the chance of a twist bigger than that of the main movie was missed. A hugely impressive performance from Fanning with some excellent supporting roles makes for a really watchable movie.