A troubled woman named Alison Callaway (Amy Irving) is discovered in her bathtub dead where she apparently committed suicide and her husband David (Robert DeNiro found her as well as his duaghter Emily (Dakota Fanning).
Emily is disturbed by this and doesn't say a word as she spends some time in a child's treatment centre.
After she is out her and David move to a land with woods and a river. Emily tells her dad that she made a new friend named Charlie but doean't want to reveal him too much.
They are greeted by a kind lady who is their neighbor named Laura (Melissa Leo) and then he meets a beautiful lady named Elizabeth (Elizabeth Shue) with a daughter near Emily's age and they go to their place but Emily doesn't say a word and creeps Elizabeth's daughter out.
Elizabeth starts dating David but Emily says that Charlie doesn't like this.
Plus there's threatening red letters marked in the bathroom to David but Emily says it's all of Charlie's doing.
Emily also plays hide and seek with Charlie which leads to something deadly as well as she does sketch art with Charlie doing his killings.
However, Alison's death wasn't what it seemed to be.
A good beginning with the film on Allison Callaway tucking Emily in bed making out this will be the last time she will see her do that.
A good shot on Emily walking through the woods and going to some sort of a cave along with her father putting up stuff in his room during this moment.
There's a good shot on David Callaway opening some shower drapes and candles around a bathtub with threatening scrawled letters on the tile walls as it involves him asking Emily about it and shw talks about her imaginary friend doing it adding a nice mysterious horror moment to the story.
A nice happy scene when we see the nextdoor neighbor Laura introducing herself with a gift as this makes you really want to be friends with her by how it was all set out and could tell this lady had an upsetting past with a child when she tries to warm up to little Emily. Kinda makes you feel like feeling sad for her.
DeNiro is good by getting aquainted with Elisabeth Shue outside discussing her child and trying to strike up a conversation.
There is a descent discussion with Elizabeth and David at his house when they discuss what happened to their marriages. Meanwhile, we have a good moment by Elizabeth's daughter Amy in a bedroom trying to be friendly to Emily yet she acts cold towards her not giving her attention which looks disturbing when someone tries to be nice to another. There's a good shot on Emily holding a squashed up face of a doll towards her.
A good shot on Amy storming out the door in a hurry to get away from the house.
A good shot on David sleeping in his bed with a reflection on his blinds blowing.
Good shots on Emily running around the house and opening up closet doors playing hide and seek. There's a terrific jumping moment with her slowly walking into a basement and turns the light on. Then suddenly the electricity goes out.
We have a perfect moment with David trying to demand Emily on who Charlie is and she chants his name out repeatedly.
A good discussion between David and Laura in her house when she tells him about the toys that they kept in the house and then she starts to cry as this was nicely put into the story of a hidden past..
There's a perfect shot on Elizabeth opening up a closet door and then screams with the camera shooting towards her and falling back through a window.
A perfect shot on a supporting character Steven with a flashlight reflecting on his face outside by getting aggressive towards David.
There's a good shot on a sheriff trying to talking to Emily as there's a nice silent shot on her drawing a picture and then there's a nice chilling feeling when she tells him who she's drawing and then the lights go out.
Bottom line is that this is a great horror flick that works on it's own and doesn't compare to any other horror film. I just returned from the theatre while reviewing this now and it is very spooky. I'd advise this film to any horror fans and can tell you that this one will for sure be a classic!
The acting is terrific! Robert DeNiro (David Callaway) is always a natural character actor playing the understanding father who sometimes loses it. There's a great devastated reaction on him after someone is dead in a bathtub. He does well at the dinner table trying to talk to his onscreen child and to encourage her to eat her spaghetti and meatballs. does a good job by trying to act sympathetic towards his onscreen child once again by when he asked her why she put a threatening writing on the wall. He's decent by getting aquainted with his feloow actress outside of his home and trying to strike up a conversation. Does well scolding his onscreen child when she acts cold towards someone else. He has a great menacing attitude quarter way through the film. He really knew on how to get menacing during a certain moment with someone else getting aggressive towards him.
Child star Dakota Fanning (Emily Callaway) really brought her character to life. She is terrific with her disturbed attitude and emotions. There's a good expressionless presence by her standing in the doorway after something devastating happened. Shows nice wide eyed expressions as if she really was disturbed in the child treatment centre. Reacts well by being depressed at a dinner table and is impressive by acting that way. She shows a good and still attitude telling her onscren father that Charlie did the writing on a wall that we spot in the film which has a good horror acting style and does well crying about him later on when her onscreen father goes in a rage with her and being demanding towards her. Also does well by acting quiet and disturbed when she's introduced to someone else. Is good having a silently cold attitude towards someone at the dinner table.
Elisabeth Shue (Elizabeth) was terrific as the nice girlfriend and always liked her work ever since I saw her in the Karate Kid. She does well by screaming after opening a closet door.
It's also nice to see Amy Irving (Allison Callaway) working again as I only remember her in certain films like Carrie and it's sequel The Rage doing a nice job with her depressed attitude.
I also really liked the suppporting role of the next door neighbor played by Melissa Leo (Laura) as it makes you really want her. A nice presence by her introducing herself to her onscreen neighbors with a housewarming gift as she makes herself a believeable nice neighbor and shows a nice warming attitude to the onscreen daughter showing a nice fascinating attitude towards her. She is great by breaking down and crying as if you'd want to help her out during another scene that brings back a sad memory for her.
No gore except for some blood and a dead cat along with the odd horror violence.
John Ottman does a nice classical score for this film with some horn playing and of course the violin music. He also had some good thumping sounds too that will make you jump.
Dr. Richard Goodman: We're gonna move, out of state - country.
Dr. Katherine Carson: What about Emily? This is a traumatic time for her. I think it's important she stays here and works through this.
Dr. Richard Goodman: No, here she's flooded with memories. Right now, I need to be a full-time dad.
Emily Goodman: Let's just hope you don't end up like her.
Emily Goodman: Three one thousand. Four one thousand. Five one thousand. Six one thousand. Seven one thousand. Eight one thousand.
Dr. Richard Goodman: Hey!
Emily Goodman: Nine one thousand.
Emily Goodman: Charlie. Come out, come out wherever you are.
Sheriff Hafferty: Neighbor called. Said there was a problem. Whatcha drawing there?
Emily Goodman: You. Dying.