Review: Hide and Seek
3 / 5 Stars
It seems to be that ever since last October, there has been a glut of interchangeable horror/thriller films permeating the box office, and most appear fairly forgettable. Hide and Seek did at least have the notable screen presence of Robert De Niro and also new wunderkind child star, Dakota Fanning. Also on board for the project - replacing Christopher Young - was composer John Ottman, asked to provide the tension, depth and a sense of sadness to the film.
"Leaving The City (Main Title)" opens the album with pizzicato and bowed strings in a mysterious but non-threatening guise before the main theme is presented by a solo child's vocal. It is a simple six-note melody repeated twice, the last two notes descending in its second phrase. Harp, piano and ominous strings provide the undertow in a vein not dissimilar to some of Chris Young's subtle scores in the horror genre, such as Flowers In The Attic and Dream Lover. The child's vocal as utilized can be a bit clichéd, but its presentation here is still appealing. Piano continues this main melody into "Exploring", along with the gentle, innocent strings and woodwind support.
The first instance of trouble occurs in "What Did You Do?". A steady pulse in strings and woodblock begins the track, the rhythm moving to lower strings while brass is allowed into the mix with muted trumpets and trombone hits ratcheting up the tension. "Can You See Now" continues the active suspense format, with wavering strings, bells and flutes swirling around each other, while low strings and brass bring the heavy ostinato back into play with relish. The mood settles a bit into melancholy in "Toy Shrine" with piano taking the lead again, but the ominous high strings are not far behind, The main theme return with more confidence in its piano guise in "The Playground", a more urgent tone is found in the track overall.
The pace quickens again in "Getting Away", as delicious string and clarinet dissonance leads into a catchy low strings ostinato under pumping brass. The tempo persists until it is overtaken by moody, suspenseful brass and woodwinds. What I enjoyed about Ottman's writing here is that it could have bland drones or pads but he still utilizes various sections of the orchestra to supply the suspense and they are just not just sitting on their hands. It simply makes for a more engaging listen when divorced from the film. "Playing with Charlie" keeps this full sound alive with active flutes, harps and bells, all before a brief explosion of brass and col legno strings. A steady, threatening pulse starts "Snooping", along with a fluttering flute line, and this tension continues into "Kitty Bath" but growing to a more fevered pitch.
A definite highlight is the full version of the main theme in "Emily’s Theme". The child's vocal returns with sonorous string backing, but this time it is not a wordless melodic line but lyrics add to the spooky overtone. The theme is given another rendition in "Hide & Seek" but this time with a contemporary electronica/rock backing, an element which really contrasts with the full orchestral menace which preceded it. Overall, there is a preponderance of suspense music here, as could be expected from a film of this genre, but I was surprised at how well written and enveloping these sections were, something Chris Young and Jerry Goldsmith have normally excelled at. I expected nothing more than an intriguing melody to start but Ottman fleshed out the soul of the score with rich ideas in the woodwinds, harp and strings.
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