I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

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domino harvey
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I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:31 am

Okay, I know I have unpredictable minority opinions quite often, but after looking around I think I may literally be the only person who likes this intriguing teen twist on the conventional ghost story. I admittedly prob give it more credit than it merits as a film because I think its premise is fascinating: a traumatic event wipes out a large portion of Chicago and the outlying suburbs, but the ghosts of those who were killed remain in everyday life, going through looped scenarios like holograms on repeat. Ten years later, society has gotten so used to these ghosts that high school students take an entire class devoted to learning about them, as a kind of current events/(after)life skills course. The metaphor is obvious, sure— just like the victims of 9/11 or other mass-scale tragedies, the victims must live with the memory of their loved ones, here literally— but I legit think this is a brilliant reversal of the usual ghost story logic: instead of no one believing such things exist, everyone has to just learn to adapt to a world where they certainly do, and they become a rote part of everyday life. I also very much enjoyed how the film plays with one of my least-favorite horror movie tropes, the “rules” that characters somehow assert as true to explain illogical events logically. Here the “rules” are learned and quickly broken first-hand, with characters protesting with “Buuuut the rules!” So much for all those hours of notes in Ghost Class!

Bella Thorne’s angsty emo sexpot thing as the protagonist is weirdly appealing (My absolute favorite Letterboxd review for this film: “Shirts don’t fit like that in real life”), and the film gets the most out of the cost of casting Dermot Mulroney as the smart-ass but caring Ghost Class teacher. The rest of the cast was present for filming.

Unfortunately for all the high ideas of the premise, the film settles into a rote serial killer drama with specific ghosts sending warnings (“But the rules say they can’t do that!”) to Thorne, who wouldn’t you know it happens to share the same birthday and profile as a lot of previous victims. It is, like, immediately obvious who the killer is even without watching a second of this film, because
SpoilerShow
you don’t spend what little money you have to cast one recognizable name in addition to your protagonist and just make him a friendly dude
but as I argued in the horror thread recently, it’s important to differentiate between inevitable and predictable twists. Predictable twists are dumb because they insult us while flattering us (“We’re smarter than the movie!”). Inevitable twists work because the film played it fair throughout and led to a conclusion that was well-mapped and justified by what came before. Just because you’ve seen a movie before and can see it coming a mile away doesn’t mean it necessarily sucks.

Regardless of the distraction of the actual plot, it's the small touches throughout that make it work so well. For instance, I loved the unsettling scene wherein a group of perverts gather in an abandoned building to get off to watching a ghost loop of a young woman’s murder— a kind of the next level entertainment option for those who find slasher movies passé. Or how the film brashly co-opts 9/11 imagery with such brazen disregard to taste that you kind of have to admire its gall. And how at some point characters have to make an educated guess about whether that old lady crossing the street in the crosswalk is real or a ghost and either slow down or plow through her! I never got around to seeing the Goosebumps sequel, but there’s no way it was a better Goosebumps movie than this.

Colin, is this on your radar? I think you’d love it, and then its fanbase could double! I think the rest of you would hate this movie. Watch it anyways to at the worst come up with decent zingers for an eventual threadsplit. One of the best films of the year (!)

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#2 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:02 pm

I just watched I Still See You--the premise was too interesting to pass by--and, yeah, it'll surprise you not a bit to know I think it's an excellent idea buried in a turgid and pedestrian execution. But there's no point going on about how the movie doesn't work. It's more fun to think about all the intriguing possibilities.

I agree, the strongest scene in the movie is the ghost replaying her own death for a group of paying spectators. More than Rear Window and Peeping Tom, this is the most loaded representation of cinema's own voyeurism. Unlike much of the rest of the film, the melodrama of the moment works in its favour: with its slow motion, billowing white costume, exaggerated gestures, eerie spotlight, absent killer, and clockwork schedule, the whole things plays out as a pantomime performance. Even tho' the audience members could technically move within the scene, walk around it like an art object or projection in a museum, they all stand in a line as tho' behind an invisible barrier and watch it unfold from a distance. Perhaps the very delicacy of the medium keeps them back--the ghosts dissolve into smoke at the merest touch--or there's something powerful enough in the performance of death to keep even the more leering audience members from wanting to enter the moment. Whatever the reason, they are cinema goers of a kind, watching someone perform their own death out of morbid curiosity, leering entertainment, perverse pleasure, or in the case of Thorne's character, an inability to look away from the horror. The moment is played as both beautiful and horrible, that weird combination of attraction and repulsion movies often give us. It's one of cinema's oldest and most popular images, a beautiful girl being murdered, here isolated and abstracted into pure essence. It loses all of its beauty or attraction when we see the real event as a flashback--then it's just grimy and pathetic. But turned into a performance, it gains weight, pathos, beauty, terror, even sublimity.

This is a world in which we are spectators at other's people's concluded lives. Tho' the film's thriller plot eventually violates this and allows for causal interactions, the idea is more intriguing when the other side is entirely visual. The characters in this world are perpetual witnesses to other people's most private, solitary moments and emotions. Tho' mostly trapped in mundane, unremarkable gestures and activities that would normally go unnoticed, the mere fact of being ghosts weights these fleeting moments with significance. Their gestures and activities are separated, isolated, and repeated. Moments that were once unremarkable become the essence of the person's existence--their epitaph, their final message, a summation of their life for whoever's walking by. A person's whole life boiled down to one moment on earth. Much like the confines of a narrative, its' tempting to use these brief windows to puzzle out that person's life and character. And this is to say nothing of being able to look in on the more private emotions of the dead, like the girl with the rose in that early scene. A moment she'd have hoped nobody would see has become a piece of performance for whoever cares to watch. If some people remain cyphers after death, some seem to reveal themselves more keenly than they might've done when alive.

The spectators at a performance aspect reveals one of the most intriguing ideas: that this universe can function much like a fantasy world for the lonely. In place of characters one can imagine interacting with, people can conceivably insert themselves into the lives of the dead surrounding them: accompany them on tasks, carry on imagined conversations, share secrets, wishes, objects with them. If timed correctly, you can spend your entire day inserting yourself into dead people's lives and create for yourself an Invention of Morel scenario. You can work yourself into a movie, maybe even in the hope that those passing by will confuse you for a spectre and think you belong.

The movie is so packed with possibility that it's a shame it had no ambitions. Not one of the best movies of last year for me, but I am really glad to've watched it. Thanks for the recommendation, domino.

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#3 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:13 pm

90% of me making that claim was giving this film credit for such a fascinating premise, which even most movies I love more fully can't claim, so I can't really disagree with a viewing reaction that admires its ideas but is disappointed by how little interest it seems to have in them. One can see financiers' fingers all over this script, dilluting the basic great idea down with more conventionally palatable narrative beats instead of trusting an audience (and it didn't matter anyways, the film made zero money). But I think there's enough here in the margins to make it worthwhile, and I loved your thoughts on the film Mr Sausage

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#4 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:53 pm

I know what you mean. This summer I ended up reading a handful of books written by women about the uncomfortable gray areas in adolescent female experience that aren't often talked about. And the one that stuck with me the most was not a very good book: the prose was terrible and best read quickly and without attention, and there was less a narrative than a situation, a kind of holding pattern used to examine the main character instead of a properly developing plot. And yet despite itself the book managed to get at something interesting and vital, I felt. It gave a thorough and plausible account of the confused way that young adolescent girls processes family, longing, loneliness, sexuality, and male attraction, and the way those things get mixed up as adult impulses vie with childish ones. It took a risk on something darker and more unsettling, with motivations that are muddy and resist easy judgements, than the other, objectively better books I read tackling similar subjects. It's a shame it wasn't done by a more talented author--in fact I suspect its good qualities were an accidental byproduct of the author's inexperience, given that a later book of hers I read was slicker, had a more complex, properly developing narrative, and yet was hollow, having none of what made the earlier book shine in spite of itself. So I would say that one book was among my books of the year even tho' it's not really all that good.

I Still See You isn't quite what that book was for me, but I think it's playing a similar role for you.

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:08 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:31 am
unpredictable ... opinions
domino harvey wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:31 am
intriguing teen twist
domino harvey wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:31 am
ghost story
Domino I don't think you used "unpredictable" correctly

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#6 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:49 pm

Mr Sausage, what was the book, if you don't mind sharing?

Just noticed the Blu-ray has almost thirty minutes of deleted scenes, will be interesting to see if these are devoted to fleshing out the world the film creates. I'll report back later when I have a chance to watch 'em

And mfunk, I laughed, but not even those elements in that order necessarily spell me liking it-- in fact, they also describe the pretty lousy Down a Dark Hall, which had the sole saving grace of featuring the trailer for this film, helpfully alerting me to its existence!

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#7 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:57 pm

domino wrote:Mr Sausage, what was the book, if you don't mind sharing?
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott.

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#8 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:42 am

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:49 pm
Just noticed the Blu-ray has almost thirty minutes of deleted scenes, will be interesting to see if these are devoted to fleshing out the world the film creates. I'll report back later when I have a chance to watch 'em
Hahaha no. That was certainly 28 minutes of my life I'll never get back. If you thought the serial killer stuff wasn't already completely obvious, apparently the first cut thought you'd want more.

I also watched the EPKs and that's another forty minutes of my life gone to learn that the entire creative team had no idea whatsoever how much potential there was in this premise. Bella Thorne is also the single most vapid interview subject I've ever witnessed, and her insights paint as damning a portrait of an idiot as I've ever seen.

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#9 Post by Never Cursed » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:53 pm

Last edited by Never Cursed on Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#10 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:59 pm

It just says she's premiering a short film at the Oldenburg film festival.

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domino harvey
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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#11 Post by domino harvey » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:01 pm

Here’s a Sun article with more info about it , it will appear on PornHub after the festival

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#12 Post by jindianajonz » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:21 pm

When do we get a separate Boutique Label thread for Pornhub exclusives?

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Re: I Still See You (Scott Speer, 2018)

#13 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:49 pm

Whilst on the subject, don't forget that YouTuber Jesse Cox recently decided to delve into hentai animation with a watch through of the six episodes of notorious 90s anime La Blue Girl, from Urotsukidoji creator Toshio Maeda. That was originally going to be on Pornhub so that it could play unedited (and is still incredibly explicit) but instead they put the series on Vimeo instead (extremely NSFW!). I was particularly interested in seeing this (!) because La Blue Girl was one of the more notorious titles that was banned by the BBFC in the UK when submitted for video release in the 1990s (with some speculation that it was the word "Girl" in the title that led to it being banned as much as anything else, much as the other hentai series based on a Maeda manga Adventure Kid had to have its UK title changed to Adventure Duo to avoid underage implications)

There is some fantastically funny voice acting in that English dub at least! The voice over re-cap opening episode 2 is amazing:
"My name is Miko Mido and I'm a totally unlilkely student. Because of a bunch of things that happened I'll have to duck attacks from the perverted Skeema for the rest of my life. Jeez Grandma, why did you have to go and die? Oh well! Anyhow, the story started with a lot of misunderstandings that ended up getting my sister kidnapped instead of me, and I ended up having to do 'it' for the first time with a totally gross monster. Geeez! So now what, huh? Now the Suzuka clan's coming for me? Give me a break! And what's that about me and my sister's destinies? And who were those people who helped us last time? And some secret about blue blood? Let the show begin!"
And Nin Nin is absolutely adorable in his innocent perviness!

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