Review: 'See for Me' effectively uses tech for a new spin on familiar subgenre

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  • Randall Okita
    Director and filmmaker

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In the taut home invasion thriller “See for Me,” Skyler Davenport plays Sophie, a former champion skier who has become embittered and reckless since losing her sight in an accident. Sophie takes a job cat-sitting at a remote upstate New York estate, planning to make some extra money by swiping and selling some of the owner’s lesser valuables. But her plans go awry when a team of professional burglars breaks in, seeking a safe containing millions of dollars.

Dropping a blind character into a cat-and-mouse story isn’t so novel. That premise has been a staple of the genre from “Wait Until Dark” to “Don’t Breathe.” But director Randall Okita and screenwriters Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue add a few of their own wrinkles. For one, their lead actor Davenport is also visually impaired, which adds a certain verisimilitude. Also, Sophie has an ally, Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy): a volunteer working for an online assistance app.

After the thieves arrive, Kelly — a military veteran and an accomplished video-gamer — acts as Sophie’s eyes via a cell phone camera. Once Sophie gets her hands on a gun, the duo’s effort to evade and contain the interlopers becomes like a real-life version of a first-person shooter game.

Aside from the quirky and exciting gaming angle, “See for Me” is a pretty straightforward suspense film — but a well-crafted one. Okita and company do a good job early laying out the parameters of Sophie’s situation: the size of the house, the location of the security system and the amount of time it will take for the police to respond to a 911 call. They even slickly work in pieces of backstory for the crooks (one of whom is played by the venerable tough-guy character actor Kim Coates) to put the crime in context.

What really makes “See for Me” effective though is Davenport’s performance, playing a tricky character. Far from some saintly martyr, Sophie is a wild card who takes advantage of some people who are trying to help her while angrily pushing others away. At times, she seems just as likely to join forces with the robbers as to thwart them. There are two sources of tension here: Will the erratic Sophie get away safely? And — deep down — does she want to?

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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