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Hide and Seek is a 2005 horror film / psychological thriller film starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. It was directed by John Polson. The film opened in the United States in January 2005 and was top of the box office. It did not reach the same level of critical success; it garnered mainly negative reviews, receiving only a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. The performances of the actors were highly praised however.

Plot summary

Following his discovery of the body of his wife in a bathtub after her suicide, Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro), a psychologist working in New York Citymarker, decides to move with his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) to upstate New York. There, Emily befriends a mysterious imaginary friend who wishes to be named "Charlie". Her friendship with Charlie begins to disturb David when he discovers their cat dead in the bathtub. Charlie is apparently responsible for this horrific act, according to Emily. David also has recurring nightmares at a specific time of the night where (2:06) , in the dream, he keeps re-living the New Year's Eve that he discovers his wife cheating on him. When a family friend, Katherine (Famke Janssen) comes to visit David and Emily, Emily reveals that she and Charlie are getting closer and have a mutual desire to upset her father. Soon they meet a man and a woman that are their neighbors. They had a daughter that died from cancer, and in a photo, it is revealed that the daughter looks exactly like Emily. The husband soon starts coming to visit Emily and talks to her very often.

When David meets local woman Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue) to whom he has become attracted, Charlie hides in a closet and then bursts out, pushing Elizabeth out a second-story window, causing her death. After the police discover her car crashed near David's house, David asks Emily what happened. Emily claims Charlie had caused her death and then tells David where her body is. A terrified David discovers Elizabeth's body in a bathtub full of blood. David asks Emily where Charlie is, and Emily tells him that Charlie "just left the house". David, armed with a knife, goes outside, where he meets his concerned neighbor that has become friends with Emily. The neighbor claims he heard noises and saw David walk out of the woods with a shovel moments before. David assumes that his neighbor is Charlie and begins to act aggressive. Thinking that David has killed his own daughter and buried her in the woods, the neighbor asks to see Emily, but David refuses and cuts the neighbor with his knife. The neighbor then calls the police. As he is in his house a door opens. David thinking it was their neighbor he goes armed and ready. Nobody is there just boxes and his psychologist equipment.After this, David discovers that he has split personality. David realizes that Charlie is not imaginary at all, but that in fact, he is Charlie. David also discovers that under his Charlie personality, he killed his wife and then made it appear to be a suicide, after discovering his wife's affair. David's entire personality then becomes fully consumed by the increasingly violent Charlie, leading him to murder the local sheriff, who came to investigate the previous altercation. Emily calls Katherine for help and tells her that her dad can't help her any longer. After a while Katherine arrives and is pushed in the basement by Charlie. David (Charlie) starts counting, Emily dashes and hides. Charlie starts looking. He checks under her bed,in the hallways, and finally in the bathroom were she is hiding behind the door. She runs to her room and locks the door. She has nowhere to go except for the window Elizabeth was thrown from, but it is too high. She attempts to open a window that only Charlie could open, and is sucessful. She then escapes and runs to the cave where she met Charlie. Katherine then escapes from the basement and shoots David right before he catches her.

The movie ends with Emily preparing for school while living a new life with Katherine, Emily draws a picture of herself and Katherine, suggesting that everything is fine. But when the camera cuts back to Emily's drawing, Emily has two heads suggesting that she herself also suffers from split personality.


This film has a total of five different endings. The US theatrical release had the following ending:

  • Preparing for school while living a new life with Katherine, Emily draws a picture of herself and Katherine, suggesting that everything is fine. But when the camera cuts back to Emily's drawing, Emily has two heads.

Another four were included on the DVD released in the USA:

  • Ending #1: The same as the ending in the US theatre release, except that the drawing Emily makes of herself has only one head, suggesting that she is fine and does not suffer from the same disease that resulted in the death of both her parents.

  • Ending #2 (this is the ending in the International theatrical version): Emily is shown seemingly in a new apartment bedroom, and Katherine's actions mirror that of her mother's at the beginning of the film. She reassures her love to Emily and begins to leave the room. Emily asks Katherine to leave the door open, but Katherine insists she cannot. As the door shuts, a protected window is visible on the door. The next cut is of Katherine locking the door from the outside, revealing this assumed apartment bedroom is actually a hospital room in a children's psychiatric ward.

  • Ending #3: Same as above in the psychiatric ward. After Katherine shuts the door, Emily gets out of bed and does a Hide and Seek countdown. She nears the closet, opens, and smiles at her own reflection in the mirror.

  • Ending #4: An ending similar to that in the psychiatric ward, but in this ending Emily is not in a ward but her new home, again playing Hide and Seek with her own reflection.

According to the commentary, the directors, screenwriters, and producers chose the ending they did for the default DVD and domestic release because it gave the audience a relief at the end of the film. They felt the hospital room endings were too dark and suggested that Emily is being punished for things she did not do. After the Emily character is basically thrown into terror for the last 45 minutes of the film, they felt it was time to give her an emotional break, and the happy ending was chosen, though it is not necessarily 'happy' as she still draws a double head, meaning that she suffers from split personality.

Main cast

Box office

USmarker Gross Domestic Takings: US$ 51,100,486
+ Other International Takings: equivalent of $US71,544,334
= Gross Worldwide Takings: $US122,644,820

See also


  • David has several noticeable similarities to Norman Bates of the Psycho series of films. Both characters start out as protagonists of their respective films, both wind up battling off-camera antagonists, both eventually find out that they themselves are the antagonists, and both eventually succumb to their psychotic counterparts.
  • The final twist is extremely similar to the one at the end of the film Secret Window, where the protagonist is battling against a threatening and murdering entity only to discover at the end that he was the murderer the whole time, at that point he gives in to his second personality and becomes the antagonist for the final scenes.
  • At the dinner scene where Emily is presented books, the top book is Charlotte's Web. Dakota Fanning would play Fern Arable, the main human character, in the live-action adaptation of the story in 2006.


  1. Rotten Tomatoes

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