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Robert DeNiro

Dakota Fanning


movie trailer ( - quicktime)

NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by jrjax who warns us... "Cat lovers beware!  Yes, the cat gets it!" 

“Hide and Seek” opens with the Callaway family in the park. (Robert DeNiro is the psychologist dad (David), Amy Irving is the mom and Dakota Fanning plays Emily, their only child).  Dad is getting hot dogs and Mom is spinning Emily on a merry-go-round. 

Next you see the mom that evening in the kitchen washing down some pills with a glass of wine. She goes to tuck Emily in for the night and they play a game that is part of their routine, Hide and Seek.  Once mom “discovers” Emily under the covers, she kisses her good night and tells her she loves her more than anything in the world. 

In the next scene we see David ready for bed; mom enters the room and he asks her if she is coming to bed as well.  She is clearly upset about something – David asks her if she wants to talk about it and she tells him, “Some things are beyond therapy”.

Now we get a peak at the action that will take place later in the movie.  We see David sleeping and Amy Irving’s hand brush his chin – she has obviously not come to bed yet.  Next we see Amy Irving lounging in the bathtub – the bathroom filled with candles.  The scene cuts back to David sleeping and we see his dream flashback of a party – a New Year’s Eve party – and you see people in evening dress and a big bunch of yellow balloons.  He wakes with a start and looks at the clock by the bed; it is 2:06 a.m.  He notices that his wife is not in bed next to him and as this scene unfolds, he makes his way to the bathroom.  It’s a great scene complete with a creaking wooden floor.  He finds Amy Irving in a bathtub filled with blood – candles blazing away and we are lead to believe she’s slit her wrists and killed herself.  As he cradles his wife’s head, we see their daughter Emily standing in the doorway, looking on in stunned silence.

Next we see Emily under observation at the New York Children’s Hospital.  Kids are playing all around her; she’s sitting in a chair just staring into space.  David is talking to her doctor Katherine (Famke Janssen ) – who we understand was once his student.  David shares that he plans to move to up-state New York to take Emily away from all of the painful memories. Katherine tells him she doesn’t think this is a good idea, that Emily should stay put and work this out.  He decides to move anyway. 

When they arrive at the new house, we are introduced to a series of shills – characters who exhibit varying degrees of creeptastic-ness and who we could assume are involved in the overwhelming wave of ickiness that is to come (just more distractions).  As David and Emily settle in, they interact with these characters – the town sheriff who gives them a ticket, the odd couple next door whose daughter recently died, the real estate guy with the Colgate smile and a divorcee and her niece.  And of course, Emily meets Charlie.  We also see David unpack his office – he’s got a big journal where he writes notes about how psychotic his daughter seems to be and he wears these huge circa 1960 headphones and listens to music while he writes.  This is a key scene as the plot unravels.  There is a disturbing scene where David is trying to do fun things with Emily and they go fishing.  Emily finds a bug on the ground and puts it on the hook to use as bait.  NOTE TO THE SQUEAMISH: this is the worst scene in the movie next to the cat’s demise.  We also see David do some fairly in-effective parenting as he watches Emily skewer this poor bug.

David: “Honey, do you think that’s a good idea?”  Meanwhile yellow guts are squirting out of this beetle as Emily smiles. 

Emily meets Charlie on one of the days when David is in his office writing.  She follows a butterfly into the woods (the butterfly is important later as a clue) and we see her approach this low out cropping of rocks framing a cave.  The scene cuts back to her father writing in his big journal.  He pauses and opens his hand.  There is this fuzzy gray stuff on it, which he wipes off and resumes writing.  I wondered about this – it is clearly not an ink stain so of course – the audience is supposed to think, “What’s that gray stuff?” which I did.  David finds out about his daughter’s new imaginary friend that night when he is tucking her in.  The dad is trying to play the same hide and seek game that the mom used to play with Emily, only now it is lame.  You can tell he’s just not comfortable being a playful parent.  So when he tucks her in, he notices that she no longer has her doll.  He asks about it, Emily tells him that she has a new friend and doesn’t need the doll anymore.  That’s when the dad finds out about Charlie.  David calls Katherine to talk about this latest development, and Katherine encourages him to use Charlie to reach Emily so she can recover from her grief over losing her mom.

Next, the divorcee neighbor Elizabeth, (Elisabeth Shue ) brings her niece over to play with Emily.  The niece is doing the typical nine-year old girl thing – blah, blah, blah.  She’s talking up a storm while Emily sits there looking morose.  That is an interesting theme in the movie – everyone keeps telling David how attractive his daughter is and how lucky he is to have such a cute little girl.  Meanwhile, Emily is looking and acting like a zombie (except for when she’s skewering the bug...).  The niece hands her doll to Emily, who takes it and turns her back to the girl.  We do notice that Emily has a pen in her hand.  The niece remarks to Emily that she doesn’t talk much.  Emily turns to face her and tells her she shouldn’t be here – she might get hurt.  Then she holds up with doll – she’s poked its eyes out with a pen.  The next scene is of the niece running out of the front door to the house to the car – and Elizabeth telling David it was nice to meet him, etc.  Apparently the niece doesn’t let Elizabeth know what Emily did to the doll – this never comes up later in the movie.

There are several night scenes that follow, each with the same escalating theme.  We see David sleeping and see his dream flashback of this New Year’s Eve party.  Each time, we see a little more.  We start to put together a picture of Amy Irving (the mom) leaving the party and taking an elevator somewhere in the same building.  David appears to follow her, but we don’t get the full story.  David awakens from these dreams and looks at the clock – it is always 2:06 a.m.  He hears something and goes to the bathroom.  The first time, the bathroom is again full of candles and shower curtain is drawn shut – we see David rip it back and we see that someone has written “You Let Her Die” on the wall.  Emily appears and tells her dad that she didn’t do it – Charlie did it.  David is understandably upset.  But this isn’t as bad as the next time.  The next time the candles are blazing and there is writing in blood on the shower curtain, “Can You See Now?” When David opens the curtain he sees murky water – you know what’s coming.  Yes it is the cat.  We see him remove the cat, put it in a plastic garbage bag and bury it.  Again Emily pleads innocence. The basic dialog goes something like this:

David: “Why would Charlie do such a horrible thing?”

Emily: “He doesn’t want you to be happy.”

Life goes on in a descending spiral from here.  Elizabeth comes to dinner – Emily shows up dressed in her dead mother’s clothes, which is odd because they fit pretty well on a nine-year old, which makes no sense.  But during dinner, Emily tells the divorcee how her mother died and she says that she hopes she (Elizabeth ) doesn’t end up like her mother.  There are a couple of scenes with the weird neighbors but nothing in them to convince the audience that they are somehow involved with the Charlie thing.

The climax of the movie begins when Elizabeth drops by to see Emily and David.  We see David in his study with the headphones one.  The Elizabeth calls out for him, no answer.  She goes upstairs and finds Emily in her room – Emily tells her that her dad is not there.  This will turn out to be the understatement of the movie.  So the Elizabeth tells Emily that she really wanted to talk to her, that she doesn’t want to replace her mom.  Emily asks her if she likes to play games.  The Elizabeth says “yes” and suggests that they play something.  This is the line from the trailers:

Elizabeth : “Do you want to play a game?”

Emily: “I’m already playing.

Elizabeth looks around the room and then in the closet – what she sees makes her scream, she totters backward and falls out of the window.  The time of day is important here – it is early afternoon.

The next scene is David in his study and it is nighttime.  We hear a knock on the door – it’s the sheriff who tells him that there has been an accident.  The divorcee’s car was found crashed by the side of the road, but she wasn’t in the car.  The sheriff and David go to Emily, who claims not to know anything about it.

There is another bathroom scene – this time we see the Elizabeth in the bathtub, dead.  David is frantic and insists to Emily that he wants to see Charlie.  He’s also peaked in her diary where Emily (or someone?) has drawn a diorama of her mom committing suicide – you know you flip the pages and it looks like the figures are moving – slash, slash, bleed, bleed.  They go to her room and there are a bunch of kid’s drawings of Emily with her parents and some guy who we are to assume is Charlie.  Emily informs David that Charlie doesn’t like him, but that her mom would’ve liked Charile.  David tells Emily that he disagrees – he doesn’t think her mom would’ve like Charlie.  Emily tells her dad that yes, her mom would’ve liked Charlie – Charlie would’ve “satisfied her”.  Uh-oh, grown-up talk.  David gets upset and wants to know where Emily heard this. Emily also confesses to her dad that Charlie made her help him do these horrible things.

After the Elizabeth -dead-in-the-bathtub scene, Emily is crying that she doesn’t want to see Charlie anymore, and begs her dad not to leave her.  There are lots of creaking doors and windows opening that were previously stuck – not to mention a really creepy basement with a bed and fresh pillow that we never quite figure out.  David grabs a kitchen knife and runs outside to see if he can find Charlie – Emily tells him that Charlie, “just left”.  David runs into the creepy neighbor husband who says, “I want to see her!” referring to Emily.  They tussle and David slices the guy’s hand – runs back to the house and locks the door.  Emily is crying and hysterical – we see the neighbor outside in the dark but he doesn’t come in.  This is about the time the major melt down starts. 

David tells Emily that her dad isn’t there anymore! 

We now get the complete picture of what had happened before.  We see David and his wife at the New Year’s Eve party.  His wife goes into the elevator, he follows her.  We see her with another man on the stair landing, making out and enjoying it while David watches from below.  Next, we see David in bed next to his wife – she’s asleep, he’s awake and not looking too happy.  He puts a pillow over her face and kills her – then arranges her in the bathtub as if it was a suicide.  Next we see David coming out of the cave where Emily met Charlie (DeNiro's split personality) – he’s got a smashed butterfly in his hand and we realize that the gray stuff he wiped off was butterfly fuzz. He was also the one in the closet who pushed the divorcee out the window and killed her. 

Emily is now in the house with psycho-dad-Charlie; the sheriff shows up, alerted by the neighbor (the slashed one) that something was going on.  There is a hide and seek game between the sheriff and Charlie. Charlie bashes him over the head with a shovel and drags him down to the creepy basement.  Emily meanwhile is watching all of this, scared stiff and trying to hide so psycho-dad-Charlie doesn’t get her as well. 

In the nick of time Katherine the shrink shows up.  We’re not sure why – but it’s a good thing.  She goes cautiously through the dark house, looking for Emily and David.  She is about to go down the stairs to the creepy basement when Charlie appears behind her, startling her.  She is relieved to see that it is him (David) – bad move – he hits her and she falls down the stairs.  He resumes his hunt for Emily. Katherine is ok, and as she gets up, she stumbles upon the body of the sheriff, which makes her scream.  But she has enough sense to take the sheriff’s gun out of the holster so she can protect herself.  When she does this, there is this startling scene where the sheriff grabs her hand and then gurgles.  We can’t tell if he’s going to make it or not – the gurgle is not a good sign – but Katherine takes the gun and heads out to save Emily.

Emily has run out of the house to the cave where she first met Charlie.  When you are nine-years-old and your dad has lost it, it probably doesn’t occur to you that a dark, dead-end cave is not the best route of escape.  But that is where she goes and Charlie follows her.  He’s about to get her when Katherine shows up.  They fight, Katherine tries to shoot him but the gun misfires. 

Katherine tells Charlie they can get help for him.  Maybe not...Charlie starts choking her and we hear Emily scream, “Stop”.  Emily tells Charlie that Katherine is her friend.  Charlie turns his attention to Emily.  He is doing this totally annoying thing of chanting the hide and seek mantra while turning his flashlight off and on.  We keep seeing Emily’s horrified face as Charlie approaches.  But then Katherine appears and tells Emily, “hide and seek!”  Emily puts her hands over her eyes and Katherine shoots Charlie.

The next scene is Emily in a nice apartment dressed for school, finishing her breakfast and drawing a picture of herself with Katherine.  We hear Katherine off camera ask her if she is ready for school.  They have a happy dialog – we see Emily finishing her drawing but we don’t see exactly what she’s adding to the picture – and then the pair leave. 

The thriller-music fills the background and we see the camera pan to the drawing.  Emily has finished the drawing of she and Katherine by adding a second head to her (Emily’s) picture – imaginary friend? 

So the movie leaves us with that open question.

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