Based upon the novel BREAK MY HEART 1000 TIMES by Daniel Waters, I STILL SEE YOU (2018) is a spooky sort of post-apoc, sort of horror film that delivers a terrific setup, only to sap its energy in a narrow, conventional plot whose resolution isn’t very surprising. (This review covers the movie, not the book, which I haven’t read.)
After a physics experiment goes wrong in Chicago, resulting in an explosion of strange energy, countless thousands are dead, and the survivors deal with the aftermath of loss. Making things worse and far weirder is the fact that ghosts of the event’s victims now haunt the world as remnants, blindly acting out parts of their day in a seemingly endless loop.
Growing up in this world–and dealing with the ghost of her father appearing every day at the dining room table to join his family for breakfast–high school student Veronica Calder struggles to cope. When a new ghost appears in her bathroom bearing a cryptic message, she turns to the spooky new kid, Kirk, for help. Together, they discover an unsettling truth–some ghosts can interact with the physical world, and one of them seemingly wants to murder Veronica. This leads them into the evacuated ruin of Chicago and the truth about who wants her dead and why.
As I said, the setup is terrific. The idea of a major city and its suburbs being haunted is pretty awesome. The idea that the ghosts may be changing, gaining power. The characters are fairly stock, good-looking YA types but that was okay. I was happy to see Dermot Mulroney, who is rocking his age (55 back in 2018), in the film. There are some great set pieces, such as when they go to Chicago.
Unfortunately, after the setup, the film became pretty predictable and, well, lifeless for me. (I hate easy puns that use a work of art’s subject against it, so sorry about “lifeless,” but it’s the only word that really nails it for me.) I didn’t like the characters enough to become really invested, and once the plot narrowed from its incredible possibilities to rote fare and became predictable, rolling forward at a low energy level, there wasn’t a whole lot to stick around for.
I STILL SEE YOU has gotten slammed on Rotten Tomatoes and other sites. I don’t think it’s that bad, not at all. It’s just not as good as its terrific setup might have had it.