See for Me is a new twist on the plot of a blind person forced to defend themselves against a threat they literally can’t see coming. Writers Adam Yorke & Tommy Gushue and director Randall Okita (The Lockpicker) have taken the basic plot of the classic Wait Until Dark and upgraded its technology. Blind and being stalked by violent criminals? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.
Sophie Scott (Skyler Davenport), was a promising skier until she lost her sight to a rare disease. Now she combines housesitting and larceny because “Nobody would suspect the poor blind girl.”. Her current assignment house/cat sitting for Debra (Laura Vandervoort, Trigger Point, V) looks to yield an expensive bottle of wine or two.
When she manages to lock herself out she is forced to rely on the app See for Me which hooks her up with a sighted person, Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy, CAM, Bad Meat), who uses video from her phone to find her a way to get back inside. Later that night when she’s awakened by voices in what should be an empty house, Kelly’s military background will come in very handy.
Much of See for Me’s strength comes from Davenport’s performance in the lead role. Although it is, I believe, her first role in front of the camera she has a long list of credits as a voice actress. And, like the character she plays, she is seeing-impaired in real life which makes scenes of her doing things like finding her way down an unfamiliar hallway look natural.
However, if her performance is the film’s strong point, her character is See for Me’s biggest problem. Sophie is, from the moment we meet her, extremely unlikable. She’s a miserable, bitter, bitch who spews nastiness at everyone around her and uses her loss of vision as a rationale to steal from her clients. And she gets worse as the film goes on, her greed leading her to make a deal with the gang that eventually manages to get an innocent person killed.
It’s a nice touch making the disabled heroine something other than a perfect angel that everyone wants to love and pity. Unfortunately See for Me takes it way too far and gives us a lead character who isn’t much better than the criminals she’s trying to evade.
Indeed, most of the characters in See for Me are, on some level, bad people. Kelly is on administrative leave from the military for some unspecified offence, which doesn’t seem to bother her as she sits in front of her huge monitors playing video games. The only other major characters in the film are the thieves led by Rico (Kim Coates, Neon Lights, Ghost Wars) who are all various levels of evil.
See for Me also manages to undercut itself as a thriller with its own plot device. By giving Sophie someone to see for her it mostly negates the disadvantage of her blindness. Letting that set of eyes belong to someone who’s been trained to kill lowers the threat level even further. The only times she’s really in danger are when she refuses to follow Kelly’s advice or when, and this is hardly a spoiler because you know it will happen, her phone dies.
Watching from Sophie’s point of view as Kelly moves her around like her avatar in Call of Duty is fun for a few minutes but it quickly wears thin. Even when he finally goes from being a voice on the phone to a physical presence, Kim Coates can’t save See for Me. He does his best with the character but Rico is more unintentionally comical than threatening. The film has its moments, and even something as simple as having the app still be in beta and glitchy would have created more of those moments. But as it stands they’re few and far between.