Thursday, January 06, 2022

See for Me

In thrillers and horror movies, blind characters are constantly under-estimated, like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, Stephen Lang in the Don’t Breathe films (particularly #2), and Natalie Dormer in In Darkness (we’d almost forgotten that one, like everyone else). It is not really the cliché about other heightened senses. They have a determination not to be victims. That is especially true of Sophie Scott, but she is a much harder character to embrace. Nevertheless, things definitely get tense when her cat-sitting gig turns into a game of cat-and-mouse in Randall Okita’s See for Me, which opens tomorrow in New York.

Scott was once a promising Olympic skier, until an accident rendered her sightless. Understandably bitter, she often accepts house-sitting gigs, where she steals items, confident her blindness will make her employers reluctant to pursue her small-time larceny, if they even notice. She assumed this job would be the same. It is just a bigger house, way out there in the mountains. However, she is rudely surprised when a handful of burglars break-in and start working on a hidden wall safe they seem to know all about.

In addition to calling 9-1-1 (with its conveniently long response time), she also calls her smart phone app, “See for Me,” having previously bonded with Kelly, one of the operators providing visual assistance over video chats. Somewhat fortuitously, Kelly is ex-military, so she can offer very practical advice, given the situation. Yet, Scott’s terrible instincts could still turn out to be her undoing.

See for Me
has plenty precedents, but it is still a neatly efficient and niftily effective thriller. Okita skillfully builds the suspense while economically establishing the Deathtrap-like setting and the rapport between Scott and the visual guide. His previous feature, The Lockpicker, was quite distinctive, but this is a vastly more commercial film.

Visually impaired thesp Skyler Davenport gives a defiantly honest performance as the angry and humanly imperfect Scott. Likewise, Jessica Parker Kennedy is impressively engaging as Kelly, even though she is confined to the other end of
The Slender Thread-ish line. Plus, it is fun to see the always entertaining Kim Coates pop up in a critical third-act supporting role.

You have probably scene thrillers like this before, but Okita’s execution is super-slick and it has Formula 1 pacing. The important thing is that it works. Highly recommended for fans of home invasion thrillers,
See for Me opens tomorrow (1/7) in New York, at the IFC Center.