The Movie Waffler New to Shudder - SEE FOR ME | The Movie Waffler

New to Shudder - SEE FOR ME

see for me review
A blind girl tackles home invaders with the aid of an app that connects her with a sighted helper.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Randall Okita

Starring: Skyler Davenport, Kim Coates, Pascal Langdale, Joe Pingue, George Tchortov, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Laura Vandervoort

see for me poster

Blind young women have long been favoured protagonists for thrillers. The most famous example is 1967's Wait Until Dark, in which Audrey Hepburn outwits home invaders by plunging her apartment into darkness, thus levelling the field. More recently we've seen such thrillers as Blind and In Darkness employ the trope. Perhaps the best thriller with a blind protagonist is Richard Fleischer's 1971 See No Evil, in which Mia Farrow delivers a stunning performance as a recently blinded woman menaced by an ambiguous psychopath.

With Canadian thriller See for Me, director Randall Okita takes this well-worn format but brings it into the modern age in two distinct ways. For a start the protagonist is played by a visually impaired performer, Skyler Davenport, answering any questions regarding the logistics of such casting. Secondly it sees very modern technology employed as a key part of its plot.

see for me review

Okita seems to be a fan of Fleischer's film. In See No Evil, Farrow's protagonist was a promising young equestrian blinded in a horse-riding accident. Here, Davenport plays Sophie, a promising young downhill skier blinded in an accident on the slopes.

Unwilling to return to the slopes, Sophie has become withdrawn, and has come up with an illegal way of lining her bank account. Taking house-sitting jobs without disclosing her condition, Sophie then raids the wine cellars of her wealthy clients, figuring they won’t notice the disappearance of one expensive bottle among hundreds.

Sophie's latest mark is rich divorcee Debra (Laura Vandervoort), who leaves her in charge of her cat, Sophie having successfully conned her into believing she can see. When Sophie accidentally gets locked out of the house, she avails of 'See for Me', an app that puts blind people in touch with helpers who use their camera-phones to guide them around. Sophie's request is answered by Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), an ex-soldier who now spends her days playing online video games. With military precision, Kelly guides Sophie back into the house.

see for me review

That night, Sophie is awoken by voices and finds three men have broken into the house and are in the process of emptying the safe. Desperate, Sophie redials Kelly, hoping she can guide her to safety.

As a thriller, See for Me never quite works as well as it should. This is largely down to the use of the 'See for Me' app, which gives Sophie a working set of eyes and so considerably reduces the tension. With Kelly acting as her eyes, Sophie is essentially no longer visually impaired as far as the setup goes, so it becomes a more generic thriller than its initial premise would suggest.

When Sophie and Kelly combine their skills, they actually have something of an advantage over the home invaders, which again impacts the potential for suspense and tension, and there's one moment where one of the villains is treated in a manner that comes off as unnecessarily heartless. This isn't so much a story of a helpless female protagonist growing into a kickass heroine as it's the story of a helpless female protagonist who instantly becomes a kickass heroine by dialling up an app. There's also the potentially problematic aspect of a blind protagonist having to rely on the aid of a sighted helper...

see for me review

It's only in the climax, when Sophie finds herself left without the aid of the app and forced to rely on her own ingenuity, that See for Me finally becomes the sort of cat and mouse thriller you expect from its premise. We're left to wonder how much more effective a thriller this might have been had its heroine not had the aid of modern technology.

Perhaps what's most refreshing about See for Me is how it gives us a disabled protagonist and refuses to portray them in a patronisingly angelic light. From the off, Sophie is difficult to warm to, even if her attitude is perhaps understandable. In a nice twist, Sophie does something that makes her role in the narrative morally ambiguous, but without spoiling anything, it's a plot shift that has great potential but is dispensed with too quickly.

See for Me is on Shudder UK now.