See No Evil (2006)
Originally written for Hell Broke Luce
Given my defeatist attitude when it comes to the overwhelming majority of recent American horror films, when the rare occasion arises that I not only want to check one out but actually ending up liking it, I do feel obliged to discuss it. With that in mind however let my also say that bias is a funny thing, because Iím almost 99.9% sure that I probably would have never bothered with See No Evil had the star of the film not been Glen Jacobs, AKA Kane. If youíre in the know than by that admission youíve probably guessed that Iím a wresting fan. Guilty. Have been for the longest time and probably always will be, and Kane, affectionately known as ďThe Big Red MachineĒ, has always been a longtime favorite of mine. Long story short, the basic gist of Kaneís wresting character is that heís a 7 foot tall monstrous sadist that loves maiming people. When WWE decided to expand their brand name and being producing films, See No Evil was the first project to get the green light, and if you were watching WWE programming around the time of the films release, promotion for the film was inescapable. Even though I was already a pretty jaded cynic, I knew I was going to check out See No Evil the moment it was announced. I just had too. I mean, a slasher film starring Kane! How could I not? This film actually did have a theatrical run, although it never played anywhere near where I could see it, so I had to wait for the DVD, and I must say I was pleased with what I saw, and in fact still am with repeated viewings.
Upon uncovering a brutal crime scene wherein they discover a young women with her eyes missing from her sockets, officers Frank Williams and his partner are viciously attacked by a hulking maniac wielding an axe. Williams manages to fire a round in the back of the assailants head although his arm is severed and his partner is murdered in the process. 4 years later Williams is now a guard at a county detention center for juvenile delinquents. As part of a work release program of sorts, in exchange for time off their sentences, 8 convicts from the center have been chosen to clean up the long abandoned Blackwell hotel in hopes of it becoming a homeless shelter, however once the young delinquents arrive at the hotel it isnít long before they find themselves being picked off one by one by a giant psychopath with a hole in the back of his head going by the name of Jacob Goodnight (Kane) who has made the hotel his home.
First and foremost, no new ground is broken with See No Evil but that wasnít the point. Despite the fact that I tend to harp on the topic of originality, Iíve also stated before that Iíve always been of the mindset that thereís nothing wrong with following conventions when done right, and See No Evil for the most part gets it right. From an aesthetic standpoint itís actually an interesting film in the sense that itís defiantly modern, yet thereís also an undeniable vibe to it obviously influenced by the slasherís of the 70ís and 80ís. At the same time, this wasnít designed to be one of those derivative, ďretroĒ styled films that have become so prevalent as of late, so itís defiantly got itís own thing going on. Itís refreshingly familiar if you will. This is a film that, as a memorable cinematic cowboy would put it, wants to get right down to it (get it?). Thatís not to say the film completely eschews character development. Along the way weíre given just the right amount of need to know information as it pertains to certain characters. Nothing more, nothing less, and the same could be said about Goodnightís back story. Honestly, had the film tried to go down that road and over explain things, it would have felt out of place. Itís simply not that kind of film. The film really shines when it does get right down to it, and one of the main reasons I found the film to be a bit of a breath of fresh air was that it defiantly wasnít catering to the teeny boppers, never taking the tame route, proudly wearing itís R rating presenting us with creatively staged and oftentimes messy kills (made even more impactful by KaneĎs sheer presence and physicality), eyeballs being ripped from sockets and even a pinch of demented, religiously imposed (isnít it always?) sexual repression thrown in for good measure.
Visually director Gregory Dark delivered a slick and highly stylized finished product. The constant quick cuts and music video-esque edits (Dark made a successful career out of directing music videos as well as porn) do tend to get a bit heavy handed at times, but overall theyíre balanced out quite nicely by the films overt old school overtones. The frenetic editing actually works wonders during the flashback sequences where we get a glimpse of Goodnightís past. Those scenes were shot with an old fashioned hand crank camera and give off a raw, incredibly disorienting effect which is more than fitting. Set design is another thing the film greatly benefited from. The production designers spared no expense in making the Blackwell hotel look as decrepit and unwelcoming as possible. The place defiantly epitomizes ďfilthyĒ, from the unkempt rooms to the fire damaged hallways, every crevice appears to be infested with cobwebs, flies, cockroaches and other assortments of insects, with each higher floor seemingly getting more grotesque. The real highlight of the hotel though is Goodnightís lair, with all the previously described attributes present in one room with the centerpiece being a table containing several jars of what else, human eyes. The film also gets it right in the effects department with itís mix of practical make up and CG effects, which are utilized the way they should be, that is only when absolutely necessary. Granted there are times where itís more obvious than others, but for the most part the gore effects were done the old fashioned way and it paid off on screen.
If I had to deduct points for anything (aside from the horrible rap song that plays early on in the film) it would be that goddamned children singing ďJesus loves the little childrenĒ bit thatís heard during the opening credits and sprinkled throughout the film. If thereís one horror motif I absolutely cannot stand itís children singing, nursery rhymes, any of that shit. HATE it. Never has it come across to me as creepy, only annoying and embarrassing. The ONE obvious exception being ďOne-two Freddyís coming for youĒ which is legitimately eerie considering Freddyís pedophile past, but Iím getting way off track so lets just say that the film went to the well one to many times in that regard. Honestly after having recently re-watched the film itís not in there as much as I remembered it being but itís still too much, regardless of it having to do with the storyline. Aside from that one little pet peeve, no complaints. The wheel might not have been reinvented but it wasnít intended to be, although I can see people unfairly dismissing See No Evil for reasons other than originality, the WWE connection probably being one of them, which is really a shame but hey, itís their problem/loss. See No Evil might not be a masterpiece, but itís a stylish slasher with memorable kills and one hell of a villain in Kane (or Glen Jacobs, whichever you prefer). Itís sure to liven up a boring day and holds up well on repeating viewings. Ten times better than the last however the fuck many PG-13 found footage 3D remake pieces of shit that have been polluting cinemas for the better part of the past decade.
I really enjoyed this film. And I also enjoyed your review of it. Good job :D
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