Ah, to be back in the good old days of having a well known actor or actress be front and center in relation to a direct to video films marketing campaign only to have them not be in the movie all that much and the movie ends up sucking ass (we are mostly looking at you Bruce Willis!!!). However, when the movie is actually quite good, you almost might not notice it. That is fortunately the case with the new movie I SEE YOU and Oscar winning actress Helen Hunt, who is front and center on the cover of the film, the marketing, etc. She is in the movie more than just an extended cameo, but only in a handful of scenes in the first half and barely in the second (although a juicy mid film twist provides a great explanation as to why). My guess is that they paid her enough money to have her on set for a couple of days only, when they could’ve given the role to any unknown older woman and the film would’ve had the same effect. This was so the filmmakers could boast that they have a recognizable award winner in their project to get enough interest going for fingers to initially hit that oh so magical play button. And then somehow the filmmakers knew the film, story and twist wise, would keep that finger from hitting the dreaded stop or pause button midway through. Hey, it worked on me.
When I saw this featured on VUDU’s main page of popular thrillers to rent/buy, I read the premise, and to me it read like oh so many haunted house mystery thrillers have done before. But the Rotten Tomatoes score was decent and then my eyes stopped on Helen Hunt’s name and image on the preview cover and I said, “oh look, Helen Hunt…I haven’t personally seen her in much since she won Best Actress for As Good As It Gets, maybe the script was enough to get her on board!” I’m glad the bait and switch marketing got me to watch it, as other than the lack of her in it, the story and suspense had enough going for it for me to give this a solid recommendation. Per IMDB, the log line for the film reads: “Strange occurrences plague a small town detective and his family as he investigates the disappearance of a young boy.” What that log line doesn’t tell you is that strange occurrences really just happen in this family’s home, the first half of the movie trying to play with the fact the house is haunted. The first half of the film is enjoyable enough and the occurrences were strange enough to keep my interest, and distract me from the fact of just how old Helen Hunt has become and her obvious plastic surgery, but then a mid film twists changes everything. And the movies wheels don’t stop turning (twists on top of twists) until the end credits. This is a rare case where the twist really did make the movie.
And I’m not going to get into that twist here. It really works and the second half of the film is very, very solid because of it. This is writer’s Devon Graye’s first screenplay, and I haven’t heard of anything that director Adam Randall has done before, but this direct to streaming feature is good enough to make me seek out anything that they do in the future. If you look at IMDB and VUDU’s page for this film, you might notice that it says this film is a 2019 film. So why am I reviewing it here? Just like Just Mercy & Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, which I reviewed not too long ago, the line between it being a 2019/2020 film is blurred, and since it’s the year of COVID-19, I need to make an exception every now and then. If I had any complaints about the movie it would be that the pacing in the first half seemed to be off and all over the place, but then again, the mid act twist sort of reveals that pacing to have an explanation to exist, so I’m not sure what I’m really getting at. Maybe not so many quick cuts? Let the scenes breathe a little and the director could’ve still not given anything away. The acting is pretty good here too. Although Helen Hunt is only okay even though she is front and center on marketing, the supporting characters, played by some recognizable faces such as Owen Teague (It Chapter One) and Judah Lewis (Netflix’s The Babysitter), more than make up for her absence. It’s just a solid direct to streaming feature I had never heard of that I just happened to come upon. Life’s little surprises, who knew?