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I Can See You

Directorial debut of sound designer Graham Reznick.

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The transition from sound designer to director is a smooth one for Graham Reznick.

  • Oct 7, 2012
*** out of ****

Graham Reznick is probably best known as the sound designer for wonderful films such as "The House of the Devil" and "The Innkeepers" (both for Ti West, and both distributed by Larry Fessenden's Glass Eye Pix, the dirty devils who arguably help get some of the most interesting independently-made horror genre pictures out there). We all know that cinematographers have the potential to make visionary directors, but how well will a sound designer fare whilst calling the shots? Reznick's "I Can See You" more or less answers the question without necessarily seeking to. Neither Reznick nor his film can speak for all the sound designers of America, but from what I gather, he's a very emotive filmmaker who shows promise as an artist who favors the more decidedly unconventional methods of storytelling such as pure feeling over narrative and characters.

So you've been warned. "I Can See You" is about a trio of young ad-men (and the girlfriend of one of them, who I think might be a sort of secretary) for the once-mighty household cleaning product Claractix. They're sent out into the wilderness to do some provocative photography that will hopefully restore the image of both the product and its spokesman, Mickey Hauser (Fessenden, who likes to make cameo appearances or play roles in just about all of the films he helps distribute). When they get out there, one of the first things the group does is attend a late-night campfire party with some hippies that they barely know. One member of the manly trio, a very hippie-like character named Richards played by Ben Dickinson, even gets lucky with a pretty girl named Summer Day (Heather Robb).

But once this pleasant night has passed, the next day just brings more trouble. No, Ben does not awake to Summer Day gone from his side; but rather when they decide to take a swim somewhere deeper in the woods, they seem a whole lot more distant than they were the night before (their lovemaking was passionate and tender...and trippy as hell). Then Summer Day runs off with Doug (Duncan Skiles), leaving Richards alone with Kimble (Christopher Ford) and his girlfriend Sonia (Olivia Villanti). It's when Richards decides to go searching for Doug and Summer that his personal descent into madness begins and we realize that this is, at the core, surrealistic horror in perhaps its purest form.

For the first hour or so, it's a slow-burn picture; and the horror is almost indistinguishable from drama. By the end of it all, you might not want to try to classify "I Can See You" as anything other than itself. It's a twisty, weird, wickedly unconventional head-trip of a movie; like David Lynch crossed paths with "Wrong Turn" and/or "Blue Sunshine". Richards' increasingly nightmarish hallucinatory experiences are very compellingly conveyed due to Reznick's obviously tight grasp on completely distorting reality through sound and sight as well as the employment of a few classic genre clich├ęs. This is not necessarily a pretty-looking film, but it really doesn't have to be. Everything leading up to the epic downwards spiral into delirium feels so real that it almost comes off as unnatural in comparison to the rest of the picture, which ultimately gives it its identity.

It's a fascinating little genre picture that will certainly upset a lot of people, especially those who want to "get" everything that they see in a film (many have called this pretentious and self-indulgent indie trash); but I recommend it to those who are open to something different, ambitious, and unable to give a fuck about what those naysayers think of it. You know who you are. By no means did I find it perfect, but it's chock-full of interesting imagery and the psychologically demeaning mood is essentially consistent. I enjoyed it as something experimental and unique rather than complete; I think if Reznick keeps making more feature films, he may someday make a film that develops real characters rather than these disposable ones. But he's made a picture that is still far more entertaining than most horror films of the past decade simply because it understands the value in suspense and extensive, sometimes obsessive and over-the-top mood-setting.

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About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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