Hide and Seek John Polson

Nobody knew the effect M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense would have on future thrillers back in 1999, but in the last six years its influence is so overwhelming that it's difficult to pick out the innovators from the feeble imitators. Hide and Seek is in the second category but isn't without its merits. Though not as creepy or as thrilling as Shyamalan's breakthrough, it's hard to imagine Polson and writer Ari Schlossberg making this into a better film. Robert DeNiro stars as David Callaway, a psychologist who is forced to care for his young daughter when his wife dies in an apparent suicide. Traumatised by the event, Emily (Dakota Fanning) becomes slightly catatonic and David retreats to a small town outside of the city to improve their lives. However, Emily finds an imaginary friend in Charlie, who begins terrorising the house and eventually offing locals, leaving David to figure out just who or what this individual is and what it wants. With a solid cast that also includes Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue and Dylan Baker, Hide and Seek is a marginally hair-raising genre film. Without a doubt, it's the disturbing work and the pale, frail and small in scale look of Fanning that gives the film its best moments and overall genuine creeps. There is a twist in the film that's classic Shyamalan and it's fairly effective, but again it fails to elevate the film to the top of its class. The DVD comes with four alternate endings, which when compared to the theatrical ending give some interesting scope to the possibilities and even prove to be a valuable asset. The numerous deleted scenes total about 20 minutes, but unlike the alternate endings, there's no real significance or allure. The "making of" featurette should in fact be renamed "Dakota Fawning," considering the ample gushing over the young actress by her fellow cast and crew, as well as the tireless concentration on her contributions. Plus: commentary, rough conceptual sequences. (Fox)