Home > Reviews > HIDE AND SEEK – John Ottman

HIDE AND SEEK – John Ottman

January 28, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

hideandseekOriginal Review by Peter Simons

Hide and Seek is a new thriller-with-a-twist from director John Polson, who previously scored a hit with the “Fatal Attraction for teenagers” film Swimfan. Following the untimely death of his wife, psychologist David Callaway (Robert De Niro) and his young daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) find that life in the Big Apple is not helping them in the grieving process. Seeking solace and a fresh start, the father and daughter move from the city to the countryside of upstate New York, acquiring a rambling farmhouse away from everything that reminds them of their past. Eager for his daughter to settle in the community, David is at first delighted when Emily proclaims to have a new “friend” named Charlie. Though he only seems to exists in the girls imagination, Charlie quickly has a profound effect on the Callaway’s life, interfering with David’s tentative relationship with local woman Elizabeth (Elizabeth Shue), and attracting the attention of a fellow psychiatrist (Famke Janssen) and the local cop (Dylan Baker). Before long, Charlie’s mischievous antics turn very serious, leading David to believe that the relationship between Charlie and Emily may not quite be what it seems…

John Ottman, as a composer, has shot to stardom quite quickly having already established himself as a talented film editor. Though his work on The Usual Suspect made him an in-demand composer, it was his score for 2001’s X-Men sequel that really put him in the limelight. Numerous job offers – and, subsequently, CD releases – have since then followed.

The score for Hide and Seek follows an all too familiar pattern, but emanates with enough vigor to make for an engaging listen. The album opens with a somewhat clichéd main title: an innocent lullaby sung by a female vocalist (in this case fellow composer and regular collaborator Deborah Lurie), accompanied by mysterious woodwind phrases and ominously oscillating strings. The theme is reprised gently on piano in “Exploring”, a cue that has a distinct melancholy and somewhat Horner-ish feel to it; though it is also reminiscent of Alan Silvestri’s What Lies Beneath. Things start to get creepy in “What Did You Do?” when strident string figures and pulsating brass take center stage. The music gets particularly tense in the last minute, but then, right before the end, the trombones start blasting out some semi-melodic lines that would feel more at place with a brass band, while the horns perform a series of glissandi that sound downright silly.

“Can You See Now?” is made up mostly of more throbbing trombone chords and see-sawing string motifs, while “Toy Shrine” is a return to the gentler tones of “Exploring”, though using a different theme, as it has that same innocent-yet-morose atmosphere to it. “The Playground” features a pleasant reprise of the main theme on piano with surging strings in the background and with brief emphasis on cello and clarinet. It’s a deceptive calm before the storm, though, as pounding timpanis, threatening brass crescendos and frenzied string motifs make up the bulk of “Getting Away”, one of the score’s highlight action tracks.

“Doll Head” offers more eerie moods conjured up by sparse piano notes, unsettling string glissandi, stealthy synthesizer sounds and the occasional disquieting motif for woodwinds. “Playing with Charlie” continues in the same style, though the addition of Lurie’s vocals, sampled whispering, as well as undulating strings that seem to mimic the wind, make for a much more sinister cue. It turns to full horror in its closing minute with strings screeching and brass screaming atonally.

“Beyond Therapy” gets off to a glum start before creepiness takes over, while “Snooping” does exactly what it says on the box: it snoops. “Kitty Bath” sounds a lot scarier than the title might suggest, but then, to anyone who has ever owned a cat this should not come as a real surprise. The two aforementioned cues combined with “Marco Polo” and “The Cave” form the album’s horrifying finale. Ottman lets the orchestra rip as violins shriek, horns squeal, pianos hammer and timpanis pound. Hair-raising as it may be in the film, and flawlessly executed as it is, on CD it makes for a less than engaging listening experience.

With “Hide and Seek” the main theme returns – with complementary lyrics this time round! ‘Who’s playing hide and seek, who wants to play with me’, sings Deborah Lurie in a convincingly girlish and appropriately breathy voice. There is nothing wrong with Lurie’s vocals talents, but the words are too hackneyed to take this cue too seriously. Luckily, the second half is reserved for an instrumental and very satisfying concluding rendition of the main theme. For the poetically-challenged however, the lyrics are reprised in the pop-arrangement that is the final track on the album. Sharlotte Gibson takes center stage to perform the song with a more mature sounding voice – replete with those electronically processed effects made famous by Cher! Again, musically speaking, it’s an attractive track, but the lyrics just ruin it.

While Ottman’s score for Hide and Seek is technically impeccable with a charming enough main theme and a handful of engaging tracks, it is also very conventional and outrageously trite at times. We have heard this kind of music many times before – from Danny Elfman, Chris Young (who, ironically, was scheduled to score the film before Ottman took over) and Alan Silvestri notably – and often done better. Having said that, if originality is none of your concern, Hide and Seek is a solid thriller score that enthusiastically indulges itself in familiar but loveable territory.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Leaving the City (2:07)
  • Exploring (2:26)
  • What Did You Do? (4:15)
  • Can You See Now? (2:32)
  • Toy Shrine (1:48)
  • The Playground (1:47)
  • Getting Away! (2:46)
  • Doll Head (2:46)
  • Playing With Charlie (3:36)
  • Beyond Therapy (1:46)
  • Snooping (2:08)
  • Kitty Bath (2:03)
  • Marco Polo (2:07)
  • The Cave (2:13)
  • Hide and Seek (Emily’s Theme) (written by John Ottman, Lior Rosner and Robert Kraft, performed by Deborah Lurie) (4:40)
  • Hide and Seek (written by John Ottman, Lior Rosner and Robert Kraft, performed by Sharlotte Gibson) (4:01)

Running Time: 42 minutes 59 seconds

Kirtland KR-25 (2005)

Music composed by John Ottman. Conducted by Damon Intrabartolo. Orchestrated by John Ottman, Damon Intrabartolo, Rick Gioviazzo, Frank Macchia, Lior Rosner and Jeff Schindler. Recorded by Casey Stone. Mixed by Bobby Fernandez. Mastered by Derek Taylor and Casey Stone. Album produced by John Ottman.

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