See No Evil 2006 Review
See No Evil 2006
Directed by: Gregory Dark
Starring: Christina Vidal, Glenn Jacobs, Zoe Ventoura
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
You know, it’s a shame that no one told Randy the Ram from Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler that he could have perhaps cured his depression by re-launching himself as a slasher movie villain. Whilst leotard-sporting grapplers that have made the switch to the silver screen have never been huge dramatic successes, the likes of The Rock or Jesse Ventura utilised their intimidating glares and hulking frames to create memorable presences in cheesy flicks.
This particular title was the first full motion picture produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and it turned out to be a belated attempt to grab a bite of the slasher pie. They gave Glenn Jacobs, one of their leading stars, the chance to portray the film’s antagonist and the logic in doing so was unquestionable. Bogeymen need to be surly, deranged-looking and unusually big. Jacobs ticks all those boxes and to be fair, he’s probably one of the better things in this rarely mentioned slash extravaganza.
A group of male and female convicts are given supervised release and the task of helping to renovate an old hotel. For every three days that they spend working on the clean up, they get their sentences reduced by a month, so they are keen to get cracking. Once on site though, they begin to ignore their duties and frolic in the usual slashertastic ways. Hidden within the mass of corridors however is Jacob Goodnight, a demented serial killer that has a fetish for removing his victims eyeballs…
Many of the newer stalk and slash films that hit shelves after the release of Scream tried their hardest to imitate the self-recognition and humour that was made a modern stereotype by Kevin Williamson’s screenplay. Thankfully Gregory Dark’s entry doesn’t bother with that and instead returns to the old skool maniac against naughty youngsters set-up and it’s a refreshing touch. The location for the carnage is a large dilapidated hotel and whilst it was hard to tell how much of the exteriors were CGI, they did help to create an impressive tone of isolation. Inside, we are treated to a lot of gloomy corridors and decayed rooms, which equally unsettle in a Silent Hill-type way. Our resident psycho stalks about in the shadows before making his screen entrance, which doesn’t take long and the runtime is well paced so that we are never left waiting long for some action.
As I alluded to earlier, Jacob Goodnight is an effective menace and pulls off a magnificently gruesome killing. One young woman climbs out of a window on a rope that is supported by her boyfriend in an attempt to flee for help. She gets about halfway down and notices that her beau is no longer speaking with her, because he has just been dispatched (off-screen). The maniac then teases her a bit, before letting go of the rope so that she smashes through a glass conservatory below. Still alive, the blood streaming from her wounds attracts a pack of wild dogs, which maul her to death whilst she is stuck in suspension inches above the ground. This sequence was the first that I previewed for See No Evil and I was extremely excited about the film’s release after. It’s one of a number of gooey moments scattered throughout, but I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that the ‘spoiled bitch’ type girl didn’t suffer a more gruesome demise.
The story is populated by the usual slasher stereotypes, but we are given pretty much zero development on any of them. I watched the film only yesterday and am struggling to remember the name of the heroine and that shows how much effort they put into bringing her to life. Every character is so paper-thin to the audience that it’s almost like I wanted the bad guy to emerge triumphant. I mean, why not? He was the only one that got any backstory at all and therefore was far less of a stranger. We are given facial freeze screens and text as a form of introduction to the troupe, which is the screenwriting equivalent of a microwave spaghetti Bolognese. The acting ranges from ok-ish to dire, but frankly, DeNiro couldn’t really have given much more to these lines. There are tonnes of those annoying MTV flash cuts that are totally unnecessary and I still somewhat cringe at hearing Hip-Hop in a slasher movie. Maybe that’s just a sign of my advancing years. Things do pick-up around the forty-minute mark though and I’m reminded of Robert McKee (Brian Cox)’s ‘Wow them in the end’ speech from Adaptation, because the unexpected twist really was a surprise. It is just a shame that it was ruined by the ludicrous cheap-gag in the credits that I won’t spoil for you; but the words, corpse, dog and urinating may give you an idea.
In hindsight, the script feels like it was little more than a first draft, which was barely given a second look before they began shooting. It seems strange that WWE were in such a rush to release their big screen debut that they didn’t concentrate more on the personalities of those guiding us through, but I really can’t think of another explanation as to why it’s so threadbare. There’s fun to be had with the death scenes and I recall a few shades of suspense, but I couldn’t help but feel that the depth of the story was considered as no more important than the gore effects. The script also spent time building the mystery of the killer removing the eyeballs of his victims, only to brush it off later with an underwhelming explanation. It was like, wow is that REALLY it?
Despite the sloppiness, See no Evil does deliver on occasion and has moments that are genuinely quite we’ll done. Fans looking for a quick fix won’t be disappointed and It also has a low-budget clone (rip-off?) by the name of Psycho Ward, which you may fancy as a double billing? I’d be the first to admire your tolerance levels if you sat through those two in a row…
One thing that I will say is that my partner, Kasia Kokocka that I watched it with loved it and gave it an a SLASH above ranking of 4/5 . But then again, she liked Spaceship Terror and said that Halloween was too slow moving… so keeping that in mind, who would you agree with? haha – (PS… she’s the boss, not me ;))
Final Girl √