Hide and Seek (John Polson). 101 minutes. Opens Friday (January 28). For venues and times, see Movie listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Hide And Seek feels like a pretty good idea at first. It stars the tiny, sinister Dakota Fanning as a possibly murderous little girl who's out to harm Robert De Niro . It's got scary woods, adults behaving irrationally and pleasingly predictable scary parts. What it lacks is any kind of restraint. It lays the creepy-little-girl horror on absurdly thick.
De Niro, looking sheepish as Fanning's psychologist father, moves from Manhattan to upstate New York to start a new life after his wife's suicide. There, Fanning discovers an imaginary friend named Charlie and begins her transformation from doe-eyed waif to hollow-eyed wraith.
Every trick in the book ensues, from scary, tinkly music boxes, to louche neighbours lurking around admiring Fanning inappropriately, to dead cats in the bathtub - all accompanied by big violin crescendoes.
Apparently concerned that this isn't enough, the filmmakers throw in a murky goulash of references to every creepy-moppet movie ever made, from The Bad Seed to Deep Red: Hatchet Murders.
It's still fun, right up until an eye-rolling plot twist sends the story careening over the top and into a maddeningly unrealistic climax and denouement. Theorem: once a film arbitrarily suspends the laws of physics, no quantity of dismembered doll parts can save it.