'See for Me' review: Sleight thriller tries reinventing worn out formula
Courtesy of IFC Midnight
For all its shortcomings, and there are many, one must give credit to Randall Okita’s sleight, but mildly engaging “See For Me” for trying to reinvent the wheel. The tried and true formula of the modern-day home invasion thriller has been rehashed countless times, but never has the main protagonist found themselves played by a legally blind actor, which solves several cliche riddled plot devices right from the start. It also helps to have someone as talented and determined as Skyler Davenport, who is making her live action debut after a string of successful video game voice overs, leading the charge. “See For Me” might lack the tension necessary to overcome a muffled start and cheesy conclusion, but watching Davenport own the screen creates a fulfilling experience.
Ensuring her legal blindness is not a crutch, but rather an advantage, “See For Me” marks an encouraging dose of representation on screen as we follow former prodigy skier Sophie (Davenport) where one of her house-sitting gigs becomes upended by intruders looking for a massive payday. Sophie, however, isn’t as innocent as she appears, often lifting priceless family heirlooms or expensive bottles of wine from her wealthy employers because “nobody will suspect the blind kid.” Though the messaging is wonky, I appreciated Sophie’s destruction of the able minded hierarchy who look down on her disability. Not to mention the flaws of the character and backstory are fleshed out in a manner that never feels cheap.
The title “See for Me” refers to an app within the movie that connects Sophie to a pair of eyes who can help her move around the house and, when the bad guys come knocking, where to shoot the gun. That Sophie gets connected to a top-notch first person shooter gamer named Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy) was a little too convenient for my blood, not to mention Kelly’s insistence on shooting the perpetrators rather than call for help was, er, strange. What’s the screening process for these new hires? In any case, it’s a refreshing spin on the cliches prevalent throughout the genre and the collaborative effort of Kelly and Sophie working towards a common objective makes the latter half of “See For Me” enjoyable.
Okita wisely utilizes sound to his advantage, keeping the main baddie, Rico (Kim Coates) off screen as a vocal presence while Sophie, again with the help of Kelly, creates their own exit strategy. The script penned by Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue can’t resist falling into a repetitive cycle of predictable story beats and the mediocre performances from the home invaders doesn’t help the cause. There’s also never a moment for Sophie to contend and/or answer for past decisions and though “See For Me” ends on an optimistic note, it feels stale. Thankfully, the screenplay doesn’t strip Davenport of her dignity nor does it make their legal blindness a gimmick it can’t outrun. That should be applauded even if the narrative is far from groundbreaking.
SEE FOR ME opens in theaters, digital platforms and VOD Friday, January 7th.