After having taken a trip down memory lane with slasher classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or more recent updates like Scream, Freddy vs. Jason and Hatchet, we come to a turning point in the Halloween movie madness week with straightforward terror slasher cinema. The two See No Evil movies show how it’s done with WWE star Kane, in a good or bad way.
See No Evil
(USA 2006, director: Gregory Dark)
A group of young delinquents have to clean an abandoned hotel in order to make good for their prison time, but they soon find out that the supposedly dead Jacob Goodnight roams the corridors and wants to cleanse them in his own ways.
What do you expect from a modern slasher movie? Elaborate character development, a suspenseful storyline, tongue-in-cheek humor? You may find this in the Scream series, but it’s certainly not in this one. This is no bad thing, though. See No Evil has the right, if clichéd, setup of a group of forgettable characters who are in a creepy building with no way out, but then being dragged across halls with a hook on a chain. It’s very brutal and bloody at times, while the pacing is quite good as well.
Unfortunately after the strong, especially vicious beginning, the introduction of characters slows it down, and despite some attempt of making them likable, they end up as nothing more than the typical slasher victims. What is left of a background story for wrestler Kane’s character is not the most psychologically challenging material, but it’s enough to give him a reason why he does the things he does. Jacob Goodnight might not be the most memorable villain in horror history, but he’s surely frightening enough and doesn’t hold back when it comes to getting his victims.
The kills are very well made, and even if some CGI effects look a bit cheap, there are enough cringeworthy moments when one feels sympathy for the shallow characters, or satisfaction, depending on how annoying one finds them. There’s also some sick sense of humor at times, e.g. when a cellphone is shoved down the throat of one very talkative girl or when a dog makes his mark into someone’s eyeballs during the credits roll (yes, it’s tasteless, but at least memorable). See No Evil is just a very entertaining slasher flick that doesn’t outstay its welcome and delivers what is expected of the genre.
See No Evil 2
(USA 2014, directors: Jen Soska/Sylvia Soska)
A group of young people wants to surprise their friend Amy for her birthday while she’s working at the morgue, but they soon have to deal with the resurrected corpse of Jacob Goodnight.
How could this go so wrong with such a great setup: a morgue with lots of dissecting (killing) tools and even modern scream queen Danielle Harris who also starred in the Hatchet series? It’s the Soska sisters, that’s what happened. After the mediocre Dead Hooker in a Trunk that desperately tried ripping off Tarantino and American Mary that was slightly more fun but always with a questionable emancipation message, this take on the slasher genre is another reason why these directors should maybe stop doing horror or grindhouse movies. At least they didn’t act in this one (although one could see them at the beginning lying dead on dissection tables, which already shows you how convinced they are of their “skills”).
One of the biggest problem the movie has is timing and pacing with some drawn-out, unnecessarily long emotional scenes and filler dialogues. It’s always a bad thing to introduce characters for half an hour who are just annoying. If they’re clichéd, that’s even more a waste of time. Having a sister whose brother wants a better life for her and therefore advising her secret admirer to let her go isn’t really material for a slasher movie. The rest of the cast is even less interesting. Now what’s worse is Jacob Goodnight himself. While he didn’t speak much in the first one, he tries to do more here, and it just doesn’t work. Constant flashbacks are also a very cheap way to show how he deals with his victims. Only he doesn’t. It’s here where the movie fails as well.
Slasher movies are notorious for showing gratuitous violence and imaginative kills, so it’s disappointing to see almost nothing like this here. It’s also very strange that the eye-ripping method from the first one being both a trademark and storytelling device is completely absent. This turns Jacob into a run-of-the-mill psycho killer without any motivation. The level of gore is also very low, except for a bit of creativity in the end, but most of it happening off camera.
The only redeeming feature of the movie then is that despite the lack of a plot, annoying characters and not nearly enough blood and guts, there are creepy instances with the lights going out and people wandering through darkness. But for a runtime of 90 minutes, this isn’t sufficient to keep the audience interested. It gets just as repetitive as the score. WWE Studios certainly know how to make entertaining movies, but unfortunately See No Evil 2 isn’t one of them.
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