Starring: Skyler Davenport, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Kim Coates
Directed by: Randall Okita
Running Time: 92 minutes
Sophie (Davenport) is a former alpine skier who had her young career derailed by an accident that left her blind. Sympathy doesn’t extend too far for Sophie because it’s hard to tell if she’s bitter about the accident or is ignorantly irresponsible. I say this because our introduction to Sophie is brief, but it highlights how talented she is, despite being rough around the edges. We see how crafty she is when it comes to getting around after aggressively turning down her mom’s advice and help before heading off to a mansion in the middle of the woods to cat-sit. If you have any remaining sympathy for Sophie, the movie throws that out the window for you quickly after. That’s because when she arrives at the home, meets the cat and says goodbye to the homeowner as they head out the door, Sophie quickly begins scouting the location for something to steal because as she puts it later in the film, “No one suspects the blind girl.”
“See for Me” enjoys playing with the viewer’s sympathy, as much as it enjoys having Sophie play with horror clichés; for when the sun sets and Sophie heads off to bed is when some safe cracking burglars show up thinking the house is empty. With the help of a phone app, Sophie has to make several decisions over the course of the film: fight, flee or team up with the burglars who weren’t expecting a blind girl to crash their party. That last one will throw you for a loop as the movie continues to work itself into improbable scenarios with equally improbable characters.
For a movie that doesn’t quite have an original concept, it has quite the original execution. Unfortunately, the originality is very entrenched in spoilers so I can’t discuss them, but I will tell you that the movie is not without its flaws. Despite a decent cast, creepy setting and entertaining set-up, the film struggles with shaking off thriller tropes, like the bad guy reveal that’s supposed to shock us (it doesn’t) or the cat-and-mouse games played by the characters in the sprawling mansion. The action is lackluster, but the character study of Sophie is the most fascinating part. Davenport, who’s blind in real-life, is most likely channeling a lot of real-life moments into Sophie’s character, bringing a lot of authenticity to a character that’s usually portrayed by someone with vision in Hollywood. Without that authenticity, “See for Me” runs the risk of becoming cruel and unrealistic.
While “See for Me” isn’t like 2016’s “Don’t Breathe,” probably because “See for Me” is way more low budget, but it still will upend expectations for those who flip it on. A film like “Don’t Breathe” is in a complex and sometimes silly setting, while a film like “The Village” uses a handicap like a cliché. “See for Me” finds the middle ground, simplicity in its setting and treating Sophie like a person, not a trope.