By: Trevor Chartrand
See For Me, directed by Randall Okita (The Lockpicker), is an engaging thriller that’s sort-of a reverse Don’t Breathe. In both films, a blind person fends off would-be home invaders – but in Okita’s movie, our visually-impaired lead character is not a sadistic sociopath – she’s (mostly) a good person.
See For Me focuses on Sophie (Skyler Davenport), a failed Olympic skier who loses her sight and is forced into a mundane routine she doesn’t care for. To make ends meet, she takes jobs housesitting in mansions, where she’ll occasionally take a memento or two to sell as her side-hustle. When one particular cat-sitting gig goes wrong, Sophie finds herself alone against three sinister home invaders. To help her navigate the night, she turns on her ‘See for Me’ camera phone app, which allows a volunteer named Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy) to act as Sophie’s eyes, and to talk her through her escape.
The strongest part about See For Me is Sophie’s character, who really grounds this film. While this picture isn’t exactly groundbreaking, a lesser thriller would use a blind protagonist in a gimmicky way to hide weak writing. Sophie though, is a fully realized character, with personal flaws and a boatload of shattered hopes and dreams. She’s not a helpless blind woman to feel sorry for. She’s spunky, resourceful, capable and cunning. Even when the script bends reality, Sophie’s there to ground us.
A good portion of the credit for Sophie’s believability goes to Davenport’s superb portrayal of the character. The film features a small cast, and everyone delivers a quality performance overall. The villains border on finger-twirlers at times, but they each bring their own quirks and flair – like the sweaty bearded safe cracker who’s nervous as hell, played by Joe Pingue.
Marketing for this film promises a lot of communication between Sophie and Kelly, but their chemistry just doesn’t pop properly in this film. Unfortunately, Jessica Parker Kennedy is not given much to work with as Kelly, who is considerably underwritten, especially compared to Sophie. There’s a lot of potential for their unique relationship to take them to some interesting places, but alas, Kelly is not developed enough to really explore the idea of two people experiencing one shared traumatic event.
While the film does go off the rails at certain points, the narrative is tight and efficient overall. Every set up is paid off, often in unexpected and exciting ways. There’s plenty of logistical problems that could be nitpicked to death in this picture (like Kelly teaching Sophie to shoot and aim a gun), but these very minor plot details are easy to overlook, thanks to our all-important, headstrong main character who convincingly guides us through the film’s narrative. Sophie is the heart of See For Me.
Overall, See For Me is an action-packed thriller that’s executed in all the right ways. It’s tightly written and edited to get in and get out, without overstaying its welcome. The movie is competently made with compelling cinematography, and effective visual storytelling cues. Ultimately, this is a rare case where a film’s script, cast, and crew are all a perfect marriage that make for an entertaining and solid entry into the thriller genre.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor