“Modern and innovative rather than simply retreading familiar terrain”
Disabled representation in film seems to be having a significant moment as of late, particularly within the thriller genre. 2021’s A Quiet Place Part II and 2020’s Run were both praised for their authentic portrayals, with leads who are disabled on and off-screen; now, Randall Okita’s See For Me has emerged as the latest entry in this particular canon. Much like the aforementioned films, See For Me features a disabled protagonist who fights to take control of her life despite her physical limitations. And as its title suggests, in this case, it is her lack of vision that initially presents itself as a challenge.
The film centers on Sophie Scott (Skyler Davenport), a former professional skier who takes on various house-sitting jobs to earn extra cash. While cat-sitting for a woman named Debra (Laura Vandervoort) in the middle of nowhere, Sophie suddenly finds herself fearing for her life when a group of men break into the house overnight. Although the ‘home invasion’ subgenre often follows a predictable model, See For Me’s approach to it feels modern and innovative rather than simply retreading familiar terrain. That’s because Sophie has an ally on the outside, connected with former army veteran Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy) thanks to the fictional app that gives the film its title. Not only does this connection enable Kelly to access Sophie’s phone camera, acting as her eyes through her own computer monitor while Sophie navigates through the space, it also forces Sophie to accept help.
From the start, Sophie is shown to be a character who cannot be pigeonholed into a simple stereotype. She is stubborn to a fault and acts upon her questionable morals; yet, she is still someone audiences want to root for. That’s because Sophie makes it clear to everyone around her that she refuses to play the victim in her life, determined to prove herself capable regardless of the risks she may face as a result. The legally blind Davenport is tasked with carrying the film, appearing in the majority of its scenes, and their portrayal of Sophie is rich with nuance. Her fear and inner conflict are conveyed in a way that feels believable throughout, whether it proves to be genuine or merely stems from a calculated approach to further her own agenda. This is especially evident in Sophie’s interactions with Deputy Brooks (Emily Piggford), criminals Rico (Kim Coates), Otis (George Tchortov), and Dave (Joe Pingue), and, of course, Kelly.
There is no doubt that Sophie and Kelly’s dynamic is the most compelling aspect of See For Me. Initially two strangers randomly paired up in the midst of desperation, their bond evolves into something akin to a security blanket, especially for Sophie. Kelly’s military background proves useful when the situation escalates, but instead of merely feeling like a crutch for Sophie, she is a pivotal character in her own right. Kelly is a literal light in the film’s darkness, illuminated on the screen of Sophie’s phone as she guides her — and the audience — through the next actions. Her commands are urgent, direct, and become crucial to Sophie’s survival.
While the initial tension of Sophie and Kelly having to work together to evade the invaders has exciting potential, and the decisions that Sophie makes out of desperation often take things down an unexpected path, the film is unfortunately unable to maintain the suspense it initially creates. The last act resolves the central conflict in a way that proves to be messy yet somehow feels too neatly wrapped up where the story is concerned, and doesn’t seem to have any major consequence. Still, See For Me is a unique thriller that’s worth checking out, with exciting twists and turns as well as authentic disabled representation at its forefront.
Dir: Randall Okita
Prod: Matt Code, David Di Brina, Kristy Neville, Julie Strifler
Cast: Skyler Davenport, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Laura Vandervoort, Emily Piggford, Natalie Brown, Kim Coates, George Tchortov, Joe Pingue
Release Date: 2021
Available on: Youtube, Apple TV, Google Play