Thrillers, or films in general with twists and turns, have always been popular with audiences everywhere. Looking through different genres, the twist has certainly played its part in keeping films exciting and entertaining. The likes of 1995’s The Usual Suspects, 1999’s The Sixth Sense and Fight Club, 2003’s Korean thriller, Oldboy and, in the same year, France’s brutal High Tension/Switchblade Romance, as well as – probably most famously – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. This device is something that has worked (or, in some cases, not) in any genre you can think of. But of course, it’s not just that final development that has to be relied on to shake and surprise you, it’s the journey to get there that has to be just as strong. The plot, the characters, the build up to those final scenes or moments: they all have to be compelling enough to get you there in the first place.
Fortunately for director Adam Randall, his new horror/thriller I See You has plenty of unexpected developments, as well as tighter-than-a-duck’s-butt tension throughout that will keep you glued to the screen. The climactic twist, although not quite as mind-bendingly brilliant as the examples above, is satisfying enough to make the film enjoyable enough overall, and I See You is a film that should appeal to fans of horror, crime thrillers and cinema in general as the plot unfurls nicely in front of you in a well-executed and gripping manner.
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I See You starts in pretty typical fashion as the action opens in a nice American town, with the camera sweeping across its surroundings. We see a young boy riding his bike through a local park, but then something happens that makes you question the normality of the town and the situation itself. The boy in question has been abducted, and an investigation ensues. Detective Greg Harper (Jon Tenney) is assigned to the case, and although it bears similarities to one solved some years ago, it’s pretty clear (to the viewer anyway at this point) that something strange may have happened to the young boy who was abducted and can’t be found by a search party made up of locals and police. These opening scenes are a nice set up, as you are gripped almost immediately by what happens with the abduction, along with the introduction of one of the film’s most pivotal characters in Greg Harper.
What is also interesting in I See You is the family dynamic of the Harpers. Detective Harper is married to Jackie (Helen Hunt) and they have a teenage son, Connor (Judah Lewis), but the family are having troubles of their own. Jackie had an affair recently, so there is obvious tension between Greg and Jackie, while Connor is clearly resentful towards his mother because of the affair. It’s at this time that strange occurrences start happening around the Harper family home; Jackie’s favourite coffee mug goes missing, all of their silverware mysteriously vanishes from the kitchen drawer, a family photo on the wall has been taken out of its frame and has disappeared.
Add to that the feeling that someone else is in the home and the Harper family is being watched, and I See You takes on a very creepy tone. It’s these scenes that will appeal most to any horror fans watching, as the film starts to take on a haunted house feel at times. Almost like a modern take on The Amytiville Horror or The Changeling in terms of tone, but also bringing to mind Hereditary in terms of a building sense of dread. This is thanks to a great musical score by William Arcane who really helps to create a tense and fear-filled atmosphere, not just in these scenes but throughout the entirety of I See You, although it definitely works best in the more horror-influenced scenes within the first two acts of the film.
I See You, although quite exciting and well executed, will possibly divide fans of horror and thrillers. While actually quite creepy and disturbing, it does go in a rather different way than you might expect; the direction, however, doesn’t end up being any less thrilling, and that’s something that Adam Randall can be applauded for, as we are still kept on the edge of our seats while I See You builds to a climax which is as exciting as you’d hope it to be.
There are times when it feels like films like I See You are coming out on an almost weekly basis. The big event, the case, the big twist ending: it’s been done so many times. With his film, however, Adam Randall has managed to create something that might have flashes of the typical dynamics and tropes of a modern horror/thriller, but through its well executed action and scare scenes, tension, reveals, solid performances and great score, I See You feels anything but generic and tired. This points to Adam Randall being a filmmaker to watch, and I See You being a film worthy of your time.
The extras for this Blu-ray release of I See You include a commentary by Adam Randall and producer Matt Waldeck made especially for this release; a short making-of documentary; cast interviews; and behind the scenes footage as well as the standard trailer and image gallery. First pressings of the film feature a collectors booklet with new writing on the film by Anton Bitel.
I See You is out on Blu-ray on 25th May from Arrow Video.