Terror Invades in Thrilling See for Me
Sophie (Skyler Davenport) was a top skiing prospect with Olympic dreams. Now, after tragically being struck blind, she’s something of a professional pet sitter who occasionally steals bottles of expensive wine to clandestinely sell for a tidy profit. Her latest job is a last-second stint at a secluded mansion looking after a recent divorcee’s cat while she’s on vacation, and the wine cellar is stocked with pricey options she might pilfer.
On the first night there, things take a dangerous turn for Sophie. Three men have entered the home intending to drill into a hidden wall safe the homeowner does not know about. The young woman reaches out to Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), a representative for “See For Me,” a new app that allows sighted volunteers to assist blind users when they’re in a situation involving unfamiliar surroundings. Together, they must find a way to stop the thieves from achieving their goal — and keep Sophie alive in the process.
See for Me has an interesting premise. Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue’s screenplay does a great job developing how this relationship between the two women is going to work. They’d hit it off when Sophie inadvertently locks locked herself out of the house and is was forced to download the app to get back inside. Now the situation is even more perilous, and if her new friend is going to survive the night, Kelly will have to utilize her skills as a former member of the U.S. military in a manner she’d never even faintly imagined.
Yorke and Gushue conceive this blossoming friendship in crisp, clean brushstrokes. Their narrative efficiency is impressive, and I liked that Sophie and Kelly’s various character traits are showcased with such unfussy clarity. This makes the former’s readiness to trust the latter when things descend into chaos inherently believable. The same goes for Kelly, and her rapid wiliness to go into battle mode to help her new friend is refreshingly authentic.
Director Randall Okita handles the mechanics of this narrative with confident skill. The early bits with Sophie exploring the home for the first time allow the viewer to get familiar with the environment, so later on it’s easy to keep track of who is where at any given time. Cinematographers Jordan Oram and Jackson Parrell do an excellent job of showcasing these interior spaces. Especially impressive are the cellphone-camera POV sequences, a first-person perspective that seats me firmly upon Kelly’s gaming chair as she attempts to get a feel for what’s happening and how best to navigate Sophie to safety.
Davenport is superb. As someone who has experienced adult-onset vision loss first-hand, it’s clear she’s pulling from her own real-life experiences to help ground Sophie and it shows in her performance. There is a haunting truthfulness to what the character is going through that is extraordinarily personal. I loved how Davenport showcases Sophie’s resilience in the face of such overwhelming odds. There is a fierce determination to persevere born of unimaginable hardships already faced, and to see the young woman tap into these internal resources even as paralyzing fear attempts to rip the rug out from underneath her, is glorious.
Kennedy does what she can with far more limited material, but the scene where Kelly vaguely speaks about her time in the military and why she’s now supplementing her income working as a “sight guide” for the app is breathlessly effective. Even stronger is a moment later on where she tries to calm Sophie down by going through a mixture of breathing exercises. Kennedy brings a singularly focused intensity to her performance that’s fitting, and even if she doesn’t rise to same heights that Davenport does, the actor still makes a lasting impression.
The majority of the men portraying the home invaders aren’t nearly as memorable. I can only imagine this is partly by design, as they are meant to be somewhat faceless, unknowable villains fleshed out only at the very margins of each individual’s personality traits (one is a thug, another is cool and collected, while the third is timidly uncertain about continuing with the operation once Sophie’s presence in the house is confirmed).
The exception is veteran character actor Kim Coates, making the most of what is essentially a cameo appearance. He comes close to stealing the film in a single scene, oozing a form of intoxicating, calmly disquieting menace that’s laced with an even more unwholesomely dangerous, hypnotic charm. His appearance got under my skin: uncomfortably sublime chills cascaded down my spine when Coates and Davenport face off.
Considering the nature of the story, I won’t say the outcome was ever in doubt. I had the ending pegged early on and was unsurprised to discover my guess was mostly spot-on. But See for Me works. It’s an entertaining little thriller featuring two strong lead performances and chilling sequences overflowing in suspense. I liked it a lot, and I’m curious to discover what the core creative team responsible for bringing the film to life has in store next.
– Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: 3 (out of 4)