Review: ‘See for Me,’ starring Skyler Davenport, Kim Coates, Jessica Parker Kennedy, George Tchortov, Laura Vandervoort and Joe Pingue

February 13, 2022

by Carla Hay

Skyler Davenport in “See for Me” (Photo courtesy of IFC Films/IFC Midnight)

“See for Me”

Directed by Randall Okita

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed part of upstate New York, the horror film “See for Me” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with two multiracial people) representing the middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A young blind woman, who has been hired to housesit a stranger’s home, has to fight off home invaders who broken into the home to steal valuable items.

Culture Audience: “See for Me” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in tension-filled thrillers with a simple concept.

Jessica Parker Kennedy in “See for Me” (Photo courtesy of IFC Films/IFC Midnight)

“See for Me” is a well-paced thriller with just enough suspense and good acting that outweigh some of the movie’s hard-to-believe moments and plot holes. If you can believe that a blind person has capably to fend off burglars while housesitting alone in a home she’s never been in before, then you’ll be up for the edge-of-your-seat ride in “See for Me.” The movie is a good example of how to make the most out of a low budget and a small number of cast members.

Directed by Randall Okita, “See for Me” was written by Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue. The movie takes place in an unnamed part of upstate New York, but was actually filmed in the Canadian province of Ontario. It’s one of those “isolated in a remote area” horror movies, in order to explain why it takes to so long for help to arrive. There’s also the drawback of the place being engulfed in snow, thereby making it harder to get to the home and harder to escape on foot.

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, there are a few things that viewers find out about “See for Me” protagonist Sophie Scott (played by Skyler Davenport), who is in her early 20s: She was an aspiring Olympic skier, but her skiing career took a detour when she became blind from a skiing accident. Since then, Sophie has become a bitter and unsure of what she wants to do with her life. Sophie speaks in short, clipped, impatient tones, as if the person she’s speaking to easily gets on her nerves.

Sophie lives with her single mother (played by Natalie Brown), who doesn’t have a name in the movie. In the movie’s opening scene, Sophie’s mother is watching a skiing competition on TV. Sophie tells her mother in an irritated tone of voice to turn off the TV. Obviously, Sophie doesn’t want to hear about other skiers doing what Sophie wishes she could do when she had the ability to see.

Sophie has called a taxi to take her to housesitting job to a large home that she’ll be visiting for the first time. She’s expected to stay for a few days while the owner is out of town. Sophie doesn’t tell her mother about this job until the taxi arrives. Sophie’s mother is a little suspicious and concerned, because she notices that Sophie has been making large deposits to Sophie’s bank account in monetary amounts that are too large for a housesitting job.

When Sophie’s mother tactfully asks if Sophie is working as an escort or if she has a “sugar daddy,” Sophie gets offended and denies it. Sophie tells her mother that the large payments are tips that she gets from the wealthy people who hire her for these housesitting jobs. The housesitting job that Sophie is going to for a few days is for one of these rich clients.

The client’s name is Debra (played by Laura Vandervoort), who meets Sophie for the first time in person when Sophie arrives for the housesitting job. Debra, who seems to be in her 30s, lives in a house that looks like an upscale, modern lodge. The house is in a very isolated, wooded area. The nearest neighbor is an untold number of miles away.

Debra is polite but is very eager to get out of the house. She mentions to Sophie that she’s recently signed final divorce papers, and she’s ready to go on a getaway vacation after this difficult divorce. Debra says of her ex-husband: “I married for maturity and money. Turns out he has neither.” Debra’s ex-husband Rico (played by Kim Coates) is seen later in the movie.

Sophie’s housesitting duties for Debra are very simple: She has to feed Debra’s cat Archie and make sure nothing goes wrong in the house. Soon after arriving at the house, Sophie checks a voice mail message from her mother, who tells her about a new app called See for Me, which has live telephone operators standing by to help blind people in emergencies. Sophie doesn’t want to talk to mother, but she downloads the See for Me App.

And how does a blind person housesit in a place visited for the first time? Sophie enlists the help of her friend Cam (played by Keaton Kaplan), by doing a videochat with him on her phone, and walking around the house while Cam describes to Sophie what he sees. Sophie also has a walking stick to help her navigate. Through this process, Sophie gets descriptions of each room in the house. She finds out that the house includes a solarium-styled greenhouse and a wine cellar.

The wine cellar is what interests Sophie the most, because it’s revealed in the movie that she and Cam have been stealing high-priced wine during these housesitting jobs and selling the wine on the Internet. They’ve been careful to take only one or two bottles per house, so the owners won’t notice anything missing right away. And that’s why Sophie has been making large deposits to her bank account after these housesitting jobs.

However, Cam tells Sophie that he no longer wants to be involved in these thefts. Sophie gets angry and tries to convince Cam to help her. This arguing continues, but Sophie will soon have a much bigger problem to deal with during this housesitting job.

First, Sophie accidentally locks herself out of the house. Because the keys are inside, and she doesn’t want to call 911, Sophie decides to try the See for Me app to find out if anyone there can help. Sophie is connected with an operator named Kelly (played by Jessica Parker Kennedy), who’s in her 30s. Kelly works from home, but See for Me calls can be routed to her phone.

Sophie is prickly and rude when she first interacts with Kelly. Sophie quickly explains the situation and tells Kelly that she wants to find a way to break into the house. Because Sophie adamantly refuses to call 911, she asks for Kelly’s help in finding a door a window where she can re-enter the house. Based on Sophie’s previous interactions with her mother (Sophie refused her mother’s help in putting her overnight luggage in the taxi), Sophie is ultra-sensitive about her blindness and wants people to think she’s as self-sufficient as possible.

Kelly is a little suspicious about Sophie’s request to find a way to break into the house, because Kelly has no way of knowing if Sophie is a burglar or not. Kelly says half-jokingly to Sophie, “Am I an accessory to a B & E [breaking and entering]? I’ve done worse.” This remark breaks the ice and helps establish a rapport between Sophie and Kelly.

With Kelly’s help, Sophie finds a way to get back in the house through a sliding glass door. Sophie is relieved and grateful for Kelly’s help. Kelly says that Sophie can ask for her if Sophie ever needs to use the See for Me app again. And you know what that means in this type of movie.

During Sophie’s first night in the house, three armed burglars break in because they want something from a giant safe that’s in the house. This trio of burglars consists of a trigger-happy sleaze named Otis (played by George Tchortov), who is the group leader; restless Ernie (played by Pascal Langdale); and mild-mannered Dave (played by Joe Pingue), who’s the one in the group who knows the most about breaking into safes. The rest of the movie is a high-stakes battle where Sophie tries to avoid getting killed when the burglars discover that she’s in the house with them.

As shown in the movie’s trailer, Sophie contacts Kelly again for help, and a cop named Deputy Brooks (played by Emily Piggford) shows up at the crime scene. The cast members give capable and believable performances, which are anchored by the teamwork that Davenport and Kennedy have to show as Sophie and Kelly. “See for Me” stretches some credibility in the last third of the movie. But overall, it delivers when it comes to a simple but effective story about a home invasion with an unusual against-all-odds protagonist.

IFC Films/IFC Midnight released “See for Me” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on January 7, 2022. Shudder will premiere the movie on April 7, 2022. “See for Me” is set for release on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28, 2022.

Review: ‘Enhanced’ (2021), starring Alanna Bale, George Tchortov, Chris Mark and Adrian Holmes

April 12, 2021

by Carla Hay

Alanna Bale in “Enhanced” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“Enhanced” (2021)

Directed by James Mark

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed Canadian city, the sci-fi action film “Enhanced” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few Asians and black people) portraying mutants and humans.

Culture Clash: An elite military squad is tasked with rounding up and imprisoning mutants who have deadly powers, while a “super mutant” is looking for more mutants to absorb their energy so he can take over the world.

Culture Audience: “Enhanced″ will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching derivative and forgettable sci-fi movies.

Patrick Sabongui, George Tchortov and Eric Hicks in “Enhanced” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

The filmmakers of “Enhanced” should have titled this movie “Flimsy X-Men Ripoff” if they wanted more truth in advertising. It’s a formulaic and mindless flick about mutants being hunted by humans. The visual effects are weak, most of the acting is mediocre-to-terrible, and the action scenes are just filler as one scene clumsily lumbers to the next.

Directed by James Mark, “Enhanced” has almost no suspense because it’s obvious which characters will survive in this “humans versus mutants” war that is going on in an unnamed city in Canada. How do viewers know who’s going to survive until the end of the movie? Time and time again, there are two characters in the movie who could easily be killed when they’re cornered by the “enemy,” but these two characters inexplicably are allowed to get away. It’s all so that movie can drag along to its very predictable conclusion.

“Enhanced” (which has the title “Mutant Outcasts” in Germany) was written by “Enhanced” director Mark, Matthew Nayman and Peter Van Horne. And having three writers for this lackluster and unimaginative screenplay just makes “Enhanced” look worse, because three minds were clearly not better than one in this case. There’s almost nothing that’s original in this movie, which recycles ideas from other, much-better movies about persecuted mutants. By the way, the humans in this movie have a very bland name for the mutants: The mutants are called “subjects.”

“Enhanced” begins with an elite military squad hunting down a mutant named Joseph or Joe (played by Patrick Sabongui), who works as a janitor in an office building. Leading this squad into action is George Shepherd (played by George Tchortov), who is the type of generic “alpha male” who’s supposed to be the story’s hero. George’s closest sidekick in the squad is Scott Cromwell (played by Eric Hicks), who is more laid-back than “take charge” George. Scott, George and some other members of the squad ambush Joseph while he’s doing some janitorial work when the office is closed for the night.

This is the type of bad dialogue in the film. George tells Joseph that they know his real name isn’t Joseph, and that Joseph’s number is 78-934BRAVO. Apparently, he’s escaped from a secret prison that the government has for mutants. Joseph, or whatever his name really is, shouts to the squad: “I’m not going back there! I haven’t hurt anyone!”

Joseph’s eyes turn a glowing blue (it’s how the movie shows the mutants unleashing their powers) and replies in desperation, “You don’t understand! They did this to me!” George says, “Joseph, this is your last chance.” Joseph answers, “No, this is your last chance!”

Joseph runs away and ends up using his mutant powers to burst onto the rooftop of the building. But the squad is right behind him, and Joseph is cornered and captured. He’s taken back to the secret prison, which is is shown later on to be just a space with several glass-enclosed rooms. It looks more like a modern office building than a prison.

Usually in movies like this, the mutants would be held captive so that the government can do secret research on them. But no, not in this dimwitted movie. These mutants are just being held captive until the government can figure out what to do with them. Taxpayer money down the drain.

Meanwhile, there’s a mutant named Anna (played by Alanna Bale) in her late teens or early 20s who ends up being one of the hunted. She works as a mechanic in an auto body shop owned by her boss Danny (played by Jeffrey R. Smith), who doesn’t know that she’s a mutant. For example, he doesn’t notice when Anna uses her mutant superpowers to do things like unscrew major auto parts with her bare hands when it would take tools and a lot of human strength to do it.

Danny is targeted for extortion by some local thugs, who gang up and assault him one day at the auto shop while Anna is there too. You know what happens next. Anna uses her mutant superpowers to kill the thugs, but it’s not enough to protect Danny, who has been shot during this brawl. Anna makes a phone call for emergency help. As Danny lies seriously injured on the floor, he asks Anna, “What are you?” She doesn’t give an answer because she’s already out the door as a fugitive on her bicycle.

During her time on the run, Anna meets a guy named Eli (played by Michael Joseph Delaney), who’s a stereotypical nerdy researcher who always seems to be in movies like this one. The researcher fulfills the role of explaining all the “secrets” that they’ve uncovered in their research. When Eli first meets Anna, he already knows that she’s a mutant. However, Anna doesn’t trust Eli at first because she think he’s another human who wants her to be locked up.

Eli has found out that there’s a “super mutant” on the loose who’s been killing other mutants to absorb their energy. This “super mutant” can sense other mutants’ presence and track them down like he’s got some inner mutant GPS system or psychic ability or some other nonsense that’s explained in the movie. And guess who finds out about the secret prison filled with mutants?

This “super mutant” has the very unremarkable name of David (played by Chris Mark), and he’s an extremely dull villain with no personality. Glaring into the camera doesn’t count as having a personality. Chris Mark’s performance as David is so lifeless that you almost wonder if he thought he was playing a zombie, not a mutant. The actor shouldn’t get all the blame because the director didn’t cast this movie very well and should have given better direction to the cast members.

Meanwhile, George clashes with his supervisor Captain Williams (played by Adrian Holmes) over something, so George ends up going “rogue.” It’s not a spoiler to reveal this information, because how else would it explain why George and Anna work together when they inevitably cross each other’s paths? And let’s not forget about Eli, who has to play the role of the “computer/technology expert” so that someone can conveniently tap into secret computer networks when needed.

Bale gives the best performance in the cast, but that’s not saying much when her Anna character, just like everyone else in the movie, is as two-dimensional as a cartoon character. Don’t expect any of this movie’s characters to have interesting stories about their lives. And the fight scenes aren’t very impressive when you consider that certain people could be easily killed during certain fights, but they aren’t killed because the movie obviously wants these characters to survive.

Mutant villain David has the ability to regenerate when he’s wounded, but the movie isn’t consistent in showing this ability in some of David’s fight scenes. This movie is called “Enhanced” because the mutants have enhanced physical powers. But the movie is so woefully lacking in originality that the quality of the movie is diminished to being creatively bankrupt.

Vertical Entertainment released “Enhanced” in the U.S. on digital and VOD on March 26, 2021. The movie was released in Brazil in 2019.

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