Home invasion thrillers are some of the most frightening and pulse-pounding movies in the horror genre. They usually play out in, or close to, real-time, which adds an extra element of tension on top of an already terrifying premise. Home is where you are supposed to be safest, and the violation of that most private and personal location creates a visceral fear in the viewer. See for Me, an exciting new entry in the home invasion subgenre, is an ingenious cat-and-mouse thriller that continually upends its narrative and creates a nuanced lead character worthy of star Skyler Davenport.
Sophie (Davenport) used to be one of the best competitive skiers in the country, but after losing her sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, she makes her living house-sitting for wealthy clients. Her newest client, Debra (Laura Vandervoort), has a huge house in the woods that Sophie thinks will be perfect for her latest job. But when the fiercely independent Sophie accidentally locks herself out of the house, she has to rely on a new app called See for Me that connects visually impaired clients with sighted guides. Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), a resourceful Army combat engineer, helps Sophie break back in. Unfortunately, Sophie isn’t the only person who wants to get into the house: later that night, a crew of thieves arrive to rob what they think is an empty house, and Sophie must rely on Kelly once more to escape the men.
Davenport (who is agender and uses they/them pronouns) brings authenticity to Sophie as a visually impaired actor. They give Sophie a prickly likability; Sophie is sarcastic and quick to dismiss anyone who offers her help, and Davenport’s keen understanding of Sophie’s motives gives the character depth and nuance. Sophie is well aware of the way that people infantilize the disabled, and she wants nothing to do with it — unless it can benefit her financially. Writers Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue provide a refreshing take on a disabled character. Sophie isn’t monstrous or inspirational or one-dimensional; she’s a fully fleshed-out character with motives, desires, and fears of her own, whose disability is a part of who she is but not the sum total of her identity.
Director Randall Okita, along with Yorke and Gushue’s script, makes canny use of the film’s location. Debra’s house is a labyrinth of huge windows, tight hallways, and open spaces, but Sophie’s methodical exploration of the house at the beginning of the movie gives both her and the viewer a better understanding of her surroundings, which helps us follow the action when things kick into high gear once the thieves arrive. It’s one of many clever ways that See for Me incorporates Sophie’s disability into the story.
The film also uses other people’s reactions to Sophie’s disability as a narrative tool, layering twist on twist to keep the viewer’s heart in their throat for nearly the entire runtime. Sophie is as capable of manipulating other people as she is of navigating her daily life, and that manipulation becomes a very dangerous game as she tries to outwit and outrun the thieves in the house. The dynamics between the crew are a delightful powder keg: Otis (George Tchortov) is the hot-tempered muscle, Ernie (Pascal Langdale) is the smooth-talking voice of reason, and Dave (Joe Pingue) is the twitchy but skilled safe-cracker. All three actors give nail-biting performances — between See for Me, The Expanse, and Stanleyville, Tchortov in particular had a terrific 2021 for genre fare. The most menacing member of the crew, however, is Kim Coates’ Rico, who commands the screen even when we only hear his voice.
See for Me pulls off multiple tense sequences, perhaps more than the typical home invasion thriller due to its surprising narrative twists. The pulsating electronic score from producing duo Menalon (Joseph Murray and Lodewijk Vos), the chilly cinematography from Jordan Oram and Jackson Parrell, and James Vandewater’s crisp editing mercilessly crank up the intensity on several scenes, including an early scene where Sophie walks slowly through the house when she first suspects that she is not alone. It’s a clever sequence, as it makes “cat-and-mouse” literal: Sophie activates the alarm that she placed on Debra’s cat’s collar and follows the sound through the house, trying to figure out if the unfamiliar late-night noises are innocuous or something more sinister. The film also makes clever use of its technology-based thrills. Kelly passes the time playing a game akin to Call of Duty, and her role as Sophie’s guide plays out like a video game with very real consequences.
Trusting another person can be scary even in the best of circumstances, but when your life is on the line, it can feel impossible. Watching Sophie learn to give up the tight control she has over her life and trust Kelly is a thrill in and of itself; pair it with See for Me’s clever twists on the home invasion story and it becomes a must-see thriller with intelligence and surprises to spare. Though the supporting cast is uniformly strong, See for Me rests on Davenport’s shoulders, and they bring nuance and authenticity to the character that underscore the importance of diverse casting. Tense, thrilling, and ingenious, See for Me is a must-watch for fans of home invasion horror.