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Film / I See You

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I See You is a 2019 American horror-thriller film by director Adam Randall and writer Devon Graye. Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney and Judah Lewis star as a suburban family struggling to cope with a string of seemingly unrelated events: an affair straining family ties, a surge of mysterious and disturbing goings-on about the house, and the abduction of a ten-year-old boy from a local park. Owen Teague and Libe Barer also star.

The movie was first released in 2019's SXSW Film Festival.

Not to be confused with the indie horror game.


Tropes found in this film include:

  • Adult Fear: Serial child abductions, estrangement from your husband and child after an affair, finding your partner and child dead or critically injured in your own home, believing that your child has murdered your partner, realizing that intruders have been living in your house, and discovering that your spouse is a serial child abductor and murderer - just to name a few.
  • Affably Evil: Greg never stops being superficially nice and polite, even when he's killing people.
  • Addled Addict: Jackie is shown to be constantly popping pills and seems to be perpetually checked out, likely trying to numb the pain of the guilt she feels for having cheated on her husband.
  • Asshole Victim: Greg is ultimately a ruthless child predator who abuses his power as a detective to kill, torture and gaslight his victims without repercussions. It's difficult to feel sorry when Alec, one of his former victims, finally kills Greg with his own gun.
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  • An Axe to Grind: A literal example when Alec attacks Greg with an axe.
  • Anti-Hero: Alec is pretty far from heroic, especially considering it's implied he was going to sexually assault a sleeping Connor, but he is the one that takes down Greg, a person much worse than him and the movie's main villain.
  • Big Fancy House: The Harper Family lives in one. It's not a mansion by any means, but it's still quite large and spacious.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Alec succeeds in killing Greg and getting justice for the amount of trauma he endured due to what Greg did to him (and implied his friend), along with helping Spitzy in rescuing Greg's kidnapped victims, but Mindy was killed by Greg, Alec is obviously still scarred by what happened to him, and the Harpers are more damaged with learning Greg was a serial child predator.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The killer abducts his victims in pairs, but we only see one when the cops are catching up with the surviving victim. Alec is the other one.
  • Connected All Along: Alec was once a victim of Greg's. It's why he has a green knife.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Alec and Mindy are homeless, and Alec is unhinged. Subverted by Mindy, though, who's very reasonable.
  • Decoy Antagonist: Alec, one of the phroggers is set up as a mad man that has a taste for messing with the mind of the family. While he's far from a heroic figure, he is the one that takes down the movie's villain.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The first half of the movie sets up the protagonists as the Harper family. A typical upper middle class family dealing with their own personal problems and strange events in their house, which is completely common for horror movies. The second half of the movie though reveals that Greg is actually the villain, being the one kidnapping children.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Dear sweet lord, the Harper Family. Jackie, the mother, cheated on her husband and is heavily medicating herself to deal with the guilt; Conner is full of anger and resentment towards Jackie for her affair and seems to be getting into fights at school; and Greg is also resentful of Jackie for her affair and is also a serial child predator who kidnaps and tortures children.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Mindy breaks into the house, but she never wanted to bother them, unlike Alec, who was crazy about revenge and wants to sadistically mess with them. Jackie is a cheater, but her husband Greg is a pedophile murderer.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Played to almost comical effect when the movie's villain tries to tell his story with a gun pointed at him.
    Greg: Wait, you don't understand. When I was a little boy...
    Alec: I don't give a fuck. [shoots him]
  • "Friends" Rent Control: A variation. Greg explicitly states that he doesn't make much money as a cop, even citing it as a possible reason for why Jackie cheated on him. Jackie works as a therapist/counselor in a small town, so she likely doesn't have many clients. In spite of this, the family can afford to live in a Big Fancy House that's large enough that two additional people can live inside the house without the family noticing. Handwaved by a single line stating Jackie's father gave his daughter the house because he was convinced her choice of husband wouldn't be able to keep her in the state to which she was accustomed.
  • Gaslighting: Alec starts deciding he enjoys making the family question their sanity by messing around with the things in the house while nobody else is looking. He even mentions that he wants to make them question their sanity.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half of the movie plays like a supernatural mystery. The boy that goes missing is yanked into the air off of his bike by an unseen force, things go missing around the house with no explanation, the window repairman tells the mother that her daughter (the sole child in the household is a boy), let him into the house, and one of the previous kidnapping victims tells the police that he was kept in "a magical house that disappears" when he was kidnapped. Halfway through the movie, it's revealed that the odd occurrences were the result of a pair of "Phroggers" living in the house, the boy was snagged by a tripwire, and the "disappearing house" was just a trailer.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: Greg is the Serial Killer that he's looking for.
  • Implied Rape: Very heavily implied, but never stated. The killer abducts children, holds them captive for a relatively long period of time, and "tortures" them. Nevertheless, the kids we see being held prisoner seem relatively visibly unharmed. He also mentions being hurt by someone when he was young.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Both of Greg's most recent victims are rescued at the end, Connor (who is not a child but a teenager) gets attacked but survives despite being tied up by the unhinged Alec.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Midway through the movie, what happened in it is repeated, but now focusing on the two people hiding inside the main family's house, and chronicles Alec's slowly getting a taste in making them crazy, and how he did the things the others noticed strange around the house. In particular, the final part of the Harper's family half of the movie completely omits that Greg also left the house, checked on the kids he kidnapped and that he had just killed Mindy in the house when he started looking around.
  • Perspective Flip: The first half of the movie is told from the perspective of the Harper family, up until they find their son tied up in the bathtub, and Greg orders the family to leave and hide. The second half of the movie comes back to the beginning of the film and plays it from the perspective of the two phroggers living in their house secretly, and the secrets they find.
  • Red Herring: During the segment focused on Alec and Mindy. We see Alec slowly becoming more and more crazed, as he starts deciding he wants to gaslight the family for fun, which seems to be setting up as Todd's killer. However, Todd turns out to have been killed by Greg.
  • The Reveal:
    • The person that killed Jackie's lover is revealed to be Greg, who found him in the basement while getting something on the house.
    • The child abductor turns out to be Greg himself.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why, exactly, was Greg kidnapping and torturing children? He starts to explain about an event in his childhood that led him down this path but is shot by Alec before he can explain himself.
  • Self-Defense Ruse:
    • After she learns that he's a child killer (from breaking into and living in his house), Greg knocks Mindy unconscious and takes her back to his house. He then forces her to stand up so that it looks like she was walking towards him and shoots her.
    • He also brags that he's going to do this with Alec, but is stopped because Alec shoots him first - and then his partner comes in and shoots Alec. However, luckily, he survives.
  • Tap on the Head: Alec pushes Mindy down the stairs while they're arguing and bangs her head hard. She wakes up a minimum of several minutes later, but seems to have no ill effects. Although she doesn't live very long after that.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Alec is violent, unbalanced, and cruel. The possibility is left open that he was prepared to sexually or physically assault Connor, who's an innocent in everything to get revenge on Greg, and he ultimately leads to Mindy's death when she did nothing to hurt him. However, he's also suffering from the severe trauma of being abducted and tortured as a child with his friend by a cop.