J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I Still See You: The Post-Ghost World

Ghosts can’t hurt us. They are just kind of creepy and in some cases awkwardly embarrassing. That is the general premise of this adaptation of Daniels Waters’ YA novel, Break My Heart One Thousand Times. Technically, they are called remnants or rems and they are more like holograms on a daily repeat cycle than tradition chains-in-the attic ghosts. The important point is they can never interact with living human—or so we are assured in Scott Speer’s I Still See You (trailer here), which opens this Friday in select theaters.

Following a cataclysmic disaster at a Promethean research lab (following in the tradition of the Flashforward TV show), a large swath of Chicagoland land was killed instantly, but came back as rems. It was thought that they recreate important events in their lives, but there really seems to be no rhyme or reason to it all. For instance, Veronica Calder’s father appears every morning, sipping coffee at the breakfast table.

Calder is convinced rems are proliferating at an increasing rate, but the government denies such rumors, so set your mind at rest. Still, she does have some compelling anecdotal evidence, like the punk rem that just started appearing to her in the bathroom, making vague but ominous threats.  He seems to be breaking the rules governing rems, or at least bending them like Gumby. Naturally, when confronted with this world-shaking phenomenon, she seeks the help of her local Holden Caufield wannabe, rem-obsessed transfer student Kirk Lane.

ISSY has a handful of inventively spooky scenes that were presumably lifted straight from Waters’ source novel. However, the way it plays fast and loose with the nature of rems is frustrating. Ultimately, it is unclear whether there is more to the ghostly projections than previously assumed, or Jason Fuchs’ adapted screenplay is just rather sloppy.

At the risk of issuing fate praise, it should be stipulated Bella Thorne carries the silliness quite well. She also builds up some nice energy with Richard Harmon’s Lane in their scenes together. However, the supposedly secret villain is so obnoxious and conspicuously suspicious, it damages the credibility of the other major characters, for being so slow on the up-take.

If the post-ghost world had been more fully established and fleshed out, it would have made ISSY a much more effective film. There are intriguing bits, but much of its feels cribbed from The Sixth Sense, Flashforward, and weirdly, Morel’s Invention (which probably gives it too much credit). This is one of those frustrating films that has enough promising stuff to make us want to recut it and film some reshoots, but as it currently stands, we cannot recommend I Still See You when it opens this Friday (10/12).

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