Ultimately opting for Brakhage over butchery, this surprising horror debut, I Can See You, hits us where it hurts, by turning vision itself into a mind-frying source of anxiety. The lengthy run-up is tedious and unpromising: A fledgling ad outfit — consisting of a drip, a menacing heel and a frustrated painter — heads to the woods to brainstorm a pitch for a cleaning product, with a bored girlfriend in tow. Introduced dabbing at a portrait with no face, shy Ben (Ben Dickinson) gets lucky with a free spirit who turns up at a campfire gathering. He becomes the film's portal for fugue states of increasing intensity, amid the usual forest unease; the often-grating humor and familiar oddities (a plastic-grin TV spokesman) feed viewer irritation, which turns out to aid the film's agenda. Working under Larry Fessenden's low-budget horror shingle, young director Graham Reznick is adept enough with sound and rhythm to incorporate, say, a borrowing of Lost Highway expressionism in his technique, which is self-enamored but effective. So much about this movie and its characters should be annoying, but the sensory disorientation climaxes in a freak-out that wipes all your troubles away, as well as anything else in your head. Preceded by The Viewer, Reznick's 3-D short described as "a telepathic interrogation experienced from the perspective of a suspected murderer." (Downtown Independent, Aug. 13)
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