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Review: YA supernatural thriller 'I Still See You' starts strong before giving up the ghost

Review: YA supernatural thriller 'I Still See You' starts strong before giving up the ghost
Bella Thorne and Richard Harmon in the movie "I Still See You." (Allen Fraser / Lionsgate)

The moody ghost story “I Still See You” starts out with a wild premise: What if a massive energy pulse wiped out much of the population of Chicago, and what if the people who died that day now walk the Earth as silent but visible spirits, repeating the same actions on a loop?

There are a lot of ways to go with this idea, and to their credit, director Scott Speer and screenwriter Jason Fuchs (adapting Daniel Waters’ YA novel “Break My Heart 1,000 Times”) take it in some unexpected directions, turning their movie into a conspiracy-driven mystery. Bella Thorne and Richard Harmon play high school classmates Veronica and Kirk, who become amateur sleuths when they can’t get anyone else in their community to recognize that these spectral “remnants” are starting to change.

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“I Still See You” plays like a combination of melodramatic teen romance and bloodless gothic horror for much of its first hour, as Veronica and Kirk get closer to finding out the truth about the explosion and the remnants. Once all the pieces are in place, the film becomes a more conventional and less interesting thriller, with a single violent villain the heroes have to overcome.

Up until its overly prolonged fizzle of an ending, though, this is a intriguing, well-acted spook-show, low on fright but driven by some twisty adventure. The filmmakers create an unusual world, and — for a while at least — populate it well.

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‘I Still See You’

Rated: PG-13 for some violence, terror, partial nudity, and thematic material.

Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 12, AMC Orange 30; also on VOD

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