Thursday, December 05, 2019

I See You

Judging from recent films, Millennials have rather pronounced mommy issues. Add this one to the fraught mother-son relationships of Little Joe and In Fabric, as well as the similarly testy mother-daughter dynamics of Mary, The Gallows Act II, and Knives and Skin. As an added bonus this time around, there is a serial killer stalking a terrified small town in Ohio. Of course, nothing is as it seems in Adam Randall’s I See You, which opens tomorrow in New York.

Connor Harper can hardly stand talking to his mother Jackie after her infidelity was revealed. Her husband, Det. Greg Harper says he forgives her, but he is still sleeping on the coach. Granted, he has been coming home late ever since the killer’s latest victim disappeared. Still, he hasn’t made much of an effort as a peace-keeper, despite Connor’s sullen behavior. In fact, the surly kid’s passive aggression seems to be taking a more violent turn. Or maybe something supernatural is afoot, or maybe not. Meanwhile, the serial killer Det. Harper helped convict several years prior is using the presumed copycat as grounds for overturning his sentence.

I See You takes a legitimately surprising U-turn halfway through, making the film easily demarcated into the before and after portions. It is a twist that really truly changes everything. Unfortunately, the first part is deadly dull, including a lot of set-up material that doesn’t really pay off on the back nine.

It is frustrating, because you really have to admire the audacity with which Randall pulls off the big whiplash reversal. However, his feat of misdirection is largely undermined by the dullness and sourness of the main characters, especially Dr. Jackie and Millennial Connor. They just make it hard to care.

As Jackie Harper, Helen Hunt (yes, the Helen Hunt from Mad About You) looks like she is preoccupied during most of her screen time, so it no great loss when her character takes an extended break from the film, during its most critical narrative stretch. On the other hand, Judah Lewis is convincingly obnoxious as Connor. Owen Teague is even creepier and scummier as a character who it would be spoilery to reveal to any extent. Yet, Jon Tenney’s finely turned performance as Det. Greg is most responsible for the film succeeding to any degree.

Devon Graye’s screenplay is clever, but it never engages on an emotional level. Basically, it just provides further evidence of how generally distasteful and parasitic Millennials can be, like we needed it. The execution of ISY definitely constitutes step up from Randall’s Level Up, but we still can’t recommend it as a movie in theaters you’d actually buy a ticket to see. So, consider yourself duly advised when I See You opens tomorrow (12/6) in New York, at the Cinema Village.