Written by Devon Graye and directed by Adam Randall, I See You flirts with multiple genres across its runtime, keeping viewers guessing as to the exact nature of what they’re watching. Wildly different modes of horror and thriller storytelling are presented across the film. The protagonist(s) you think you’re following may not retain that status for the whole thing.
To compare it to other notable horror hits of late may provide an accurate sense of the film’s tone or plot, but that would only apply to a certain section of the story or the mood for just part of the film, rather than a precise picture of the whole. That said, ‘Hereditary meets Don’t Breathe’, with shades of Scott Derrickson’s forays into detective-led horror, wouldn’t be a terribly erroneous description.
All you need to know going in is that a young boy goes missing in circumstances suspiciously similar to abductions in the same small town a decade prior. A detective (Jon Tenney) on the case finds his family may also be in danger from an apparent haunting of their home.
I See You is a puzzle movie, above all else, but it’s not an assortment of cheap tricks and switcheroos. This is in part due to the compelling exploration of trauma and abuses of multiple kinds that the story ultimately touches on, related to reveals that, unless one guesses certain twists early enough, don’t reveal themselves fully until even the last shot.
Like with even some of the most popular puzzle movies (The Usual Suspects), there’s a suspicion I See You may not be nearly as arresting when revisited later. But there’s something eerie about the sadness at the core of the film, aided by the palpable pain of some key performances, including Helen Hunt. It’s in part about the surprising ways in which people expose their vulnerability, be it when they’re facing malevolent manoeuvres they’re not even conscious of; the need for connection with other people, even those who cause hurt and try to hide it; or just the unknown in general.