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Film / Hide and Seek

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Charlie's hiding...

Hide and Seek is a 2005 Psychological Horror film directed by John Polson, starring Robert De Niro and a then relatively-unknown Dakota Fanning.

This film is about a psychiatrist named David Callaway (De Niro), who moves to upstate New York with his daughter Emily (Fanning) following the suicide of her mother (Amy Irving). While settling into their new home, Emily begins conversing with an imaginary friend named Charlie, while at the same time becoming close to Laura (Melissa Leo) and Steven (Robert John Burke), a neighboring couple who lost their own daughter to cancer.

Emily's irrational behavior starts to worry David, and things come to a head when a woman he has befriended named Elizabeth (Elisabeth Shue) is killed while she is playing with Emily. Emily blames the murder on Charlie. David confronts his neighbor, believing him to be "Charlie", and drives him away... only to be immediately confronted with the real Charlie, his own psychotic alternate personality.

Not confused with the yaoi manga.

This film contains examples of:

  • Bath Suicide: Alison in the beginning. It later turn out that it wasn't a suicide; David under his Charlie persona murder her after she had sex with another man at a New Year's Eve party.
  • Broken Bird: Emily when it's revealed why she's the way she is.
  • Creepy Basement: Used brilliantly near the end too.
  • Cheerful Child: Amy at least until Emily wrecks her doll.
  • Creepy Child: Emily throughout most of the film.
  • Creepy Children Singing: During the end credits.
  • Creepy Doll: Several after Emily trashes them.
  • Daddy's Girl: Averted. Emily is cold or hostile towards David throughout the film. Even at the beginning of the film before she is traumatized, Emily seems closer to her mother.
  • Dull Surprise: What some critics have accused De Niro of doing as David. As Charlie, not as much.
  • The End... Or Is It?: There are five different endings, four of which play this straight.
    • At the end of the movie in the US release, after David/Charlie dies, Emily is shown at her foster home drawing a picture before going to school. Happy ending, right? Well, the picture is of her with two heads, implying she has developed an alternate personality too.
    • In the second one, Emily has been sent to a mental ward for observation. After Katherine tucks her in and leaves, Emily gets out of bed and starts looking for something. When she opens a closet door and says, "There you are," the camera then shows Emily staring at herself in a mirror with a slightly demonic smile.
    • The third one shows her at the foster home and her drawing is completely normal, showing that she's fine.
    • The fourth one has her being tucked by Katherine but then showing she's in the ward (different ending from the one mentioned above).
    • The fifth one has her in a completely different altogether foster home, playing with her reflection.
  • Expy: David to Norman Bates in Psycho. They're protagonists, they fight antagonists not shown to us, they discover that they themselves are the antagonists, and they succumb to their evil personalities.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: David and Charlie, possibly leading to Stealth Pun with the title.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The theme song "Hide and Seek."
  • Jump Scare: When Katherine reaches for the presumably dead sheriff's gun he grabs her arm.
  • Kick the Dog: Charlie kills Emily's cat, in a way that makes David suspect that Emily did it.
  • The Killer in Me: Charlie is an alternate personality of David's.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: Emily, although she abruptly turns anti-doll once Charlie becomes her friend.
  • Lovecraft Country: Averted. The creepy neighbors and sheriff in this strangely underpopulated small town turn out to be harmless and/or concerned about Emily.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Charlie turns Emily against David, making her believe that David is the one who killed her mother and that he's David's "good" side. Eventually, Emily catches on that the truth is the opposite - David is innocent and Charlie is the murderer.
  • Mind Screw: In the same vein as Psycho.
  • Missing Mom: Emily's mother is killed at the start of the film.
  • Missing Time: In one scene David puts a kettle of water on the stove, goes into the next room, and then almost immediately hears the kettle start whistling. Emily also states that “Charlie just left” when David comes to check on her; on rewatch it’s clear that David lost time as Charlie between putting the kettle on and hearing it whistle.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Steve, when he is seen by David chatting with Emily. However, he is only drawn to Emily because she reminds him of his deceased daughter.
  • Multiple Endings: See The End... Or Is It? above.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: In the theatrical ending.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Steve, who comes to suspect that David is endangering Emily.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Charlie, who turns out to be another personality of David's.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The music box Katherine gives Emily is seen floating in the flooded cave at the end of the film.
  • Police Are Useless: After getting a call from a worried neighbor, the sheriff shows up at the Calloways' home without back-up and is soon knocked out with a shovel by Charlie.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Charlie. David makes one comment about wanting "Emily to have a better childhood than he did", so his childhood issues probably are what makes his Charlie personality so dementedly childish.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: "It's okay. Daddy's gone now." Crosses into That Man Is Dead too as according to "Charlie", the minute David learned the truth, he ceased to exist, leaving "Charlie" behind.
  • There Are No Therapists: There are several therapists, but it doesn't help at all actually.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Emily seems happy and well-adjusted in the scenes before she sees her mother's bloodied corpse in the bathtub.
  • Vorpal Pillow: David does this to his wife, Alison, under his Charlie persona during the twist reveal scene.


Video Example(s):


"Daddy's Gone Now..."

(Spoilers) After unpacking the boxes that are never unpacked, looking at his stuff, and notices that his journal is completely blank, it is revealed that Charlie, Emily's imaginary friend is actually David's twisted split personality. Flashbacks shows "Charlie" murdering Alison with a pillow for making out with another guest at a New Year's Eve party & pretending that she commit suicide in the bathtub, pushing Elizabeth out the window & receiving an arm scratch from her, and killing a butterfly in half after coming out of a cave.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / NotSoImaginaryFriend

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