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Hide ‘ Seek’ deserves a peek

Grade: B

Robert De Niro and child wunderkind Dakota Fanning star in “Hide and Seek,” a decent thriller with an audience-pleasing plot and suitable suspense.

The recent thriller boom, PG-13 films low on gore, but high on shrieks (“White Noise,” “The Grudge,” M. Night Shymalan’s films) has revitalized a left-for-dead genre, but also raised audience expectations. In this case, theater owners didn’t receive the final reel until opening day, so the twists and ending surprises wouldn’t be prematurely revealed.

Originality lacks in certain areas, namely the more conventional ending and rehashed dialogue like “Come out, come out wherever you are” (“Cape Fear”), but still follows a plausible plot.

Screenwriter Ari Schlossberg has written only one other film, the well-received 2004 romantic comedy titled “Lucky 13,” but builds some entertaining suspense. A better musical score really could’ve improved this film.

De Niro stars as David Callaway, a psychologist addressing some family problems after a tragedy.

Fanning equals De Niro with her considerable acting talents as his daughter Emily Callaway, a smart, but troubled girl who grows more isolated, eventually finding an imaginary friend named Charlie.

Elisabeth Shue stars as Elizabeth, a local woman who befriends the Callaways while Famke Janssen stars as Katherine, David’s work colleague.

If you let your imagination run wild, you’ll get more entertainment from the plot, but if you watch with a healthy dose of skeptisim, the plot might become predictable.

Australian director John Polson (“Swimfan”) works in limited settings, but really knows how to set up the action through careful framing and concentrates the camera lens on the film’s biggest assets — the actors.

The high levels of acting and genuine surprises (if no one spoils them for you first) raise this film a notch above mediocrity. It’s refreshing to see a thriller without a lot of special effects and supernatural elements that yields solid results.

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