See for Me is a very clever edge of your seat thriller with an inspired concept. It’s the kind of suspense film Don’t Breathe would have been if the filmmakers didn’t opt for the massive twist.
Like Don’t Breathe, See for Me has a similar premise of a blind character as the sole occupant during a home invasion.
Sophie (Skyler Davenport) was a former Olympic hopeful before a condition degraded her sight. Robbed of pursuing her dream, Sophie has become bitter, angry and instantly dismissive of anyone trying to offer her help. Similar to Sophie, Davenport is also visually impaired. After a lengthy voice acting career, Davenport makes an impressive onscreen lead performance.
Determined to not be a victim, Sophie is earning a living house-sitting for typically wealthy clients. Screenwriters Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue add some other layers to Sophie so she’s not a squeaky-clean protagonist. That allows them to take the script in several unexpected directions as the film plays out.
Sophie’s latest gig has her staying at the posh home of a well-off client Debra (Laura Vandervoort, Smallville) in a semi-isolated snowy mountaintop watching her cat. Sophie has some smart methods to navigate the massive home including a video walkthrough with her friend, Cam (Keaton Kaplan).
After accidentally locking herself out, Sophie makes use of a new app her mother recommended called See For Me. It’s a video guided app where workers accept service calls to guide a visually impaired user. Sophie’s guide, Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy, The Flash), has an abundance of patience to deal with Sophie’s prickly attitude. For Sophie, the app requires her to give up control and actually accept someone’s help.
Sophie needs it sooner than she thinks as thieves break into the home to retrieve the valuables hidden in a safe. They’re guided by a mysterious figure (Kim Coates, Smallville), communicating through his cell phone. Good thing Sophie kept Kelly on her priority list.
Kelly is used to this perspective as she spends her free time playing online first-person shooter games. There’s a casual mention of Kelly having some military experience, but Yorke and Gushue don’t follow it up. It could have just as easily been Kelly joking about her video game fixation.
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The script takes an unpredictable turn and then shaken up again when police officer Brooks (Emily Piggford, The Umbrella Academy) shows up with an appropriate level of concern.
This opens up the avenue for what one might expect given the premise with Kelly and Sophie operating as one to get Sophie safely away from the thieves. It wasn’t a coincidence that an earlier scene features Kelly leading her video game squad on a mission only for them to get killed because they went rogue and didn’t follow her commands.
We’re in an exciting new era of films where blind characters aren’t treated like hapless victims and aren’t passively waiting on someone else to save the day. See For Me continues that commendable trend while also erasing the stereotype that those characters have to be completely virtuous and can’t have layers. The film benefits from the audience conflict over Sophie and her decisions.
Director Randall Okita uses wide shots to make use of the corners and hallways of the estate. It’s an innately suspenseful way to show just one wrong step would place Sophie in harm’s way. Okita doesn’t bother with jump scares. The housecat surprisingly isn’t used as a cheap fake-out for Sophie or the thieves.
Sharply paced at 92 minutes, the film doesn’t wear out its thrills or welcome by the end credits.
See For Me is smooth and solid and a must-watch for suspense/thriller fans.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: IFC Films
Check out Don’t Breathe on Blu-Ray at Amazon.
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