Signal Horizon

See Beyond

See For Me Review- A Quick Watch That Breathes New Life Into Home Invasion Thrillers

Fans of classic horror will undoubtedly recognize the setup of See For Me from Aubrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark. The vulnerable, blind girl who isn’t as helpless as she seems has her space invaded by criminals. See For Me has many of the same bones as that oldie but goodie. There are mysterious trespassers and a pretty young damsel who isn’t in as much distress as you think. IFC Midnight’s See For Me takes this initial premise and revamps it for our current app-friendly world with surprisingly positive results. This is primarily due to some great acting, particularly in Jessica Parker Kennedy, Skyler Davenport, and Kim Coates, who oozes slimy menace through every scene.

Home invasion thrillers are a dime a dozen. Some take a circuitous path like last year’s Till Death, while others stick with the tried and true formula like Becky but rely on incredible performances to sell the conceit. See For Me opts for something both comfortable and unexpected and is better for it. Regardless of how often the basic story is told, the insidiousness of having your personal space, the area that should be the safest, invaded is inherently scary.

Sophie is a young woman who has lost her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Before she lost her sight, she was an accomplished downhill skier. Now she is fiercely independent, resentful, and, as we later find out, a bit of a thief. She house and pet sits for money. Her mother and friend Cam want her to return to skiing using an assistive ski partner, but as determined as she is not to be a victim, she is also terrified of trying again. Sophie is a study in contrasts. She appears placid and controlled but is a roiling mass of anger and fear. She is angry she lost her sight and is desperate to prove she doesn’t need to be taken care of. Sophie is also terrified to try to regain some of what she lost.

Her latest job finds her in a beautiful but remote part of upstate New York, where she will care for the homeowner’s house and cat. Unfortunately, on her first night in the house, a trio of thieves breaks in to steal from a hidden safe. Sophie’s only weapons are her clever determination and an ex-military vet Kelly(Jessica Parker Kennedy) on an app called See For Me that uses her phone to help Sophie evade the criminals and stay safe.

Early on, it is obvious Sophie isn’t your typical victim. She is dismissive and emotional in equal parts. However, she proves resilient when she finds herself accidentally locked out of the luxury house. Using the new app and Kelly’s advice, she manages to get back into the place despite her unfamiliarity with the home and the frigid temperatures. That relationship makes for the most rewarding of the film and allows for a believability to what is to come.

Black Sail’s and The Flash’s Kennedy is a standout as the resourceful Kelly. It is a bit of a mystery that she has not become a bigger star. She brings an authenticity to Kelly that feels lived in. This is someone who has seen action and knows how to command. Her remote viewing of the situation is an inspired choice and allows both the story and Kennedy herself to shine. Davenport is brittle but tough as the bitter young woman. By casting visually impaired actress Skyler Davenport(Sophie), everything feels more true as opposed to some current miscues like Sabrina’s Kiernan Shipka in Netflix’s ill-designed The Silence deaf thriller.

What makes See For Me different from others of the same ilk is that Sophie isn’t your typical hero. She isn’t a victim, and she isn’t innocent either. She has been doing house-sitting jobs for the rich to steal expensive bottles of wine. Her friend Cam then helps her place those bottles for sale. She isn’t getting rich, but she earns a tidy little sum. Unfortunately, Cam is tired of being involved in her schemes, and when Sophie finds another bottle to steal, he refuses to help. Enter the merry band of thieves with a new scam and a fluid sense of morality. The dangerous opportunity gives Sophie a chance at a bigger windfall if she can survive the night.

Wide angled shots of the impressive house capture both predator and prey. Camera work by Jordan Oram and Jackson Parrell makes the most of the voyeuristic story and stunning house. This allows the tension to drive the scenes without being forced by jump scares or trite soundtracks. Director Randall Okita(The Lockpicker) produces a tightly paced film that doesn’t waste a second. Writers Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue wring new life from the well-worn story, and an indulgently well-equipped chalet do the rest.

While the ending is a bit too abrupt, a final knowing smirk from Sophie leaves just enough on the table to keep things from falling into a fairy tale sunniness that would have spoiled the film. See For Me is the kind of movie that is easy to watch and even easier to get sucked in by. The thriller is quick, stylish, slick, and satisfying in an “I know how this is going” kind of way. There are enough twists to keep things from being boring and more than enough gorgeous set pieces to make even the weariest ready to strap on some skis and grab a mug of hot chocolate. It is available on VOD everywhere this Friday.