Starring Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, Libe Barer
Written by Devon Graye
Directed by Adam Randall
I See You is the kind of movie you can’t really talk about until you see it. A movie that depends so much on its twists and turns that any plot descriptions border on spoilers. Yet it is also a highly entertaining, thrilling, twisty and dark film that will spark many conversations.
We start with a dreamlike sequence in which a 12-year-old boy is peddling his bike on a trail by the woods until he’s suddenly launched backward into the air, as if grabbed by giant invisible hands and disappearing completely. Then we meet the Harpers, an upper-class family with a luxurious home but a rocky relationship. Jackie (Helen Hunt) is trying to keep her sinking marriage afloat after an extra-marital affair, and her teenage son Connor (Judah Lewis) is unable to even look her in the eye out of rage. Her husband, Greg (Jon Tenney), is a tad more discreet, even if he’s sleeping on the couch and seems like he’ll explode any second.
Greg is called to work as a lead investigator in the disappearance of the 12-year-old from the beginning, and it looks like the case could involve the return of a serial child abductor thought to be forever out of sight, or a copycat. Then one day Jackie’s former lover arrives for a quick visit, and all hell breaks loose.
Note that all of this happens in the first 30-minutes of the movie. The first-time screenwriting credit for Devon Graye and the sophomoric directorial effort by Adam Randall takes a hard turn at the midway point, switching point-of-view and showing us the events we just witnessed from a completely different side. Soon, heroes become villains, villains become heroes and you’ll be surprised by the person you end up cheering for by the end.
I See You also plays its commentary well, as the film wants to explore the idea that there is darkness in all of us and how even the safest of neighborhoods has dark presences lurking in the shadows. The film feels just as influenced by The People Under The Stairs as it does Get Out.
The cast does a great job exposing these themes. Helen Hunt is kind of underutilized, but that can be attributed to the film’s many twists and turns. Thankfully, we have It’s Owen Teague to sort of take over in the latter half of the film with a quiet, observant, and unnerving performance that would scare even the bullies from Derry.
On a technical level, I See You is as impressive as it is puzzling and entertaining. William Arcane’s unconventional score (he used everything from wire clothes hangers to a bone clarinet), to the production design, who creates a mask worthy of joining the great pantheon of horror masks, as well as making you see Star Fox’s Slippy Toad in a whole new light
I See You is an impressive screenwriting debut, featuring enough surprises to keep even the sharpest audiences guessing, as well as a thrilling story about how easy it is to not notice the darkness in people.