The scariest story that horror mangaka Junji Ito has ever illustrated is The Human Chair. This short story which can be found in Venus in the Blind Spot is about a woman who buys a chair, only for a man to be living in it. That’s one of my biggest fears, having someone live in my house without my knowledge, and that’s what I See You taps into. Directed by Adam Randall and written by Devon Graye, I See You stars Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, and Libe Barer and follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.
The film itself has three different stories that close in on each other with the abduction of 10-year-old Justin Whitter from a local park. His story is noted consistently through the film, “did you know about that boy,” or “what do you think happened,” it sits in the background and binds the films varied narratives together. In I See You, Greg Harper (Jon Tenney) is made lead detective on that very case. As evidence in the case begins to grow, the investigation falls to the wayside of the narrative with Harper’s family troubles taking center stage. Jackie (Helen Hunt) isn’t the best wife, Connor (Judah Lewis) is resentful, and dear old dad is left on the outs with them both. But, as the story moves, this family drama begins to take shape as mysterious events begin plaguing the house. All the silverware goes missing, several pictures are removed from their frames, Jackie’s favorite coffee mug goes missing, and a window repairman is let in by someone inside the house while the family is away.
As the unexplainable keeps happening, the incidents become physical, and just as we begin to see answers, the perspective switches to phroggers, Mindy (Libe Barer), and Alec (Owen Teague). If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s well, the stuff of nightmares. Phroggers are people who sneak into houses and live in them with the family, hiding in unused rooms, using their utensils, eating their food, and just sharing a space unbeknownst to the owners. Think the basement man in Parasite, but somehow creepier.
Once we get this perspective, I See You turns into a new movie, a thriller versus a pure horror. As we see the slow interactions of the phroggers and the family, the psychological play between them is not only terrifying but slow-burning. The script flips again in a way I can’t explain and avoid spoilers. But, in the third act, the noir elements seep in and the thread connecting the three perspectives begins to reveal itself.
Three stories in one, I See You offers up a variety of scares that use elements across genres. There are elements of the film that are disturbing and some that fit in an uncanny exaggerated space. The moment the narrative switched perspectives, I was worried. Curating multiple atmospheres and evoking varying feelings in your audience is hard. When twists happen, especially those that rely on other genre elements out of the initial narrative it’s easy for the filmmakers to lose their audience. That said, I See You holds your interest. While it is jarring to see the tonal and perspective shifts, they’re followed up with plot points that immediately grab you and pull you back in.
Additionally, the film is visually unsettling. With shots that set the house as cavernous, adding to the tension and a dark color palette that builds tension even when there is no dialogue spoken. To top it all off, as the stories are lined up against each other visually, there are no inconsistencies between the story you were first told and the second one that is revealed. This keeps the flow of the film and each act unravels in a way that makes them build on each other without undercutting the one before.
Overall, I See You is a film to pick up if you’re a horror fan, a noir fan, or a thriller fan. It offers up a variety of scares and stories that keeps it pacing and intensity throughout various twists. Plus, the final twist isn’t one you’ll see coming, and as the elements of the film come together, it becomes more than the sum of its parts.
I See You is available now on VOD.
I See You
- Rating - 8/108/10
I See You is a film to pick up if you’re a horror fan, a noir fan, or a thriller fan. It offers up a variety of scares and stories that keeps it pacing and intensity throughout various twists. Plus, the final twist isn’t one you’ll see coming, and as the elements of the film come together, it becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.