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 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 and 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 and unusually big. Jacobs ticks 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 parody and instead returns to the old skool maniac against naughty youngsters set-up, which is extremely refreshing. 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 neatly paced so that we are never left waiting around 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 chord that is supported by her boyfriend in an attempt to flee for help. She scales halfway down the building and notices that her beau is no longer speaking with her, because he has just been dispatched (off-screen). Straight after, the maniac slices the rope and looks on as she smashes through a glass conservatory below. Due to some remaining rope-threads, she remains suspended inches above the ground whilst bleeding profusely. Barely alive, her wounds attract a pack of wild dogs that gratuitously maul her to death! This sequence was the first that I previewed for See No Evil and I was extremely excited about the film’s release thereafter. It’s one of a number of gooey moments scattered throughout the picture, but I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that the ‘spoiled bitch’ girl didn’t suffer a more gruesome demise.
The story is populated by the usual slasher stereotypes, but none of them are given any real development. 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. In fact, they are so paper-thin that I almost wanted the bad guy to emerge triumphant. I mean, why not? He was the only one that got any backstory 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 have put any emotive expression into these cardboard lines. From a technical perspective, 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 :(. We do get a tighter momentum around the forty-minute mark, which reminded me of Robert McKee (Brian Cox)’s ‘Wow them in the end’ speech from Adaptation, because the unexpected twist at the conclusion 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 totally overlooked the importance of character development in their screenplay. 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 story’s depth was replaced with gore scenes. 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 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 √