It’s too bad that a suspense film as smart and unpredictable as “I See You” is being released so late in the year, at a time when most movie buffs are preoccupied with Oscar contenders. Director Adam Randall and screenwriter Devon Graye have delivered the kind of sly nail-biter that could use a little more open space on the calendar to build up buzz so it can get noticed by fans of imaginative, original horror.
Helen Hunt plays psychologist Jackie Harper, who’s trying to hold her family together even as her son Connor (Judah Lewis) keeps lashing out at her about her recent affair. Meanwhile, Jackie’s embittered, cuckolded cop husband Greg (Jon Tenney) is investigating a child abduction that’s putting their upscale suburban community on edge. Making matters worse, a series of mysterious incidents around the Harper home raises the possibility they’re being haunted.
The second half of “I See You” digs into the possible paranormal activity, via one whopper of a plot twist — best left as a surprise. The kidnapping is eventually explained too, in an ending that ties everything together too neatly.
Still, it’s rare to see a horror film so devoted to intricate plot mechanics and so concerned with driving to a satisfying payoff. Randall and Graye have made a movie largely about a privileged family with a lot to hide. And while the Harpers may deserve whatever is plaguing their house, that doesn’t make it any less terrifying to see the sins of their past come back as a string of dangerous traps, sprung by the filmmakers with clockwork precision.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale, Glendale; also available on VOD