Sophie’s choice may not be what you’d expect.
An Olympic hopeful who recently lost her sight, Sophie (Skyler Davenport) accepts jobs online from wealthy home owners seeking a trustworthy sitter. Using technology, her friend Cam (Keaton Kaplan), and a bit of planning, Sophie has no problems getting around… even finding things rich folks won’t miss to pad her sitting fee. After accepting a last-minute job offer from Debra (Laura Vandervoort) at an isolated mountain mansion to look after a cat, Sophie is awakened in the night by three men who seem to know their way around the property and its security. With the help of a new app and an agent named Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), Sophie hopes to keep from panicking in a horrible situation until things take a turn for the worse.
“A woman alone” has become a thriller genre all its own of late, but some manage to exceed their concept by going in unusual directions — see The Night House for details — while some fall flat — The Eye, for example. One big advantage here is Skyler Davenport, who actually is visually impaired and isn’t playing at being virtually sightless. Looking eerily like Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina Spellman but having no witchcraft to fall back on, selling the film’s narrative rests entirely on Davenport’s shoulders. Does See for Me possess the thrills to see its concept through, or does this app need to be deleted?
Using a remote location has become a default solution for filmmakers to get around the everybody’s-got-phones problem — oh noes, the cops are so far away — this particular concept requires additional suspension of disbelief for the situation to make sense. Fortunately, the story works within its own rules, especially with Sophie’s established thrill-seeking streak in spite of limitations, creating opportunities for twists and surprises. While a straightforward plot might have been interesting enough, the main character’s motivation adds an untypical darker layer, elevating standard fare into an imperfect standout feature worth talking about.
Cribbing from the opportunists in Don’t Breathe who made their own bed to lie in seeking an easy payday, the back and forth in See for Me is character driven. Kennedy’s Army-veteran helper Kelly is willing to help Sophie on Sophie’s terms, unlike the generic agent who’s answer for everything was “call anyone else for help.” When the bad guys show up in the second act, why they’re there and what they’re after complicates matters, opening up enough possibilities to keep viewers guessing. Even under the guise of a last-minute recruitment, it seems unlikely a wealthy homeowner would neglect to provide authorities and other relevant people the full name of her sitter, never mind having a whole-home alarm system without monitoring, video, audio… you know, things that keep rich people and valuable property safe.
Minus the obvious allowances to make the story work, Skyler is all-in, taking Sophie from a bitter opportunist cashing in on other’s perception of her to an empowered protagonist with the confidence and capability to save herself. Not everyone gets the deserved comeuppance coming their way, leaving enough wiggle room for another life lesson in the future… because nothing says success like a sequel, right?
See for Me is not rated for gun violence, light thievery, and wondering who waters all the plants in the greenhouse when Debra jets off.
Three skull recommendation out of four