'See No Evil' Review: Nothing to See Here
It seems like every couple of months, someone new tries to make me like horror movies. Whether it’s a new addition to the friend group, an employer, or just an old acquaintance coming out of the rotting floorboards of fright, there’s always that person determined to rope me in. And always with the same schtick: “You haven’t watched the good stuff,” “You’re just another hater on the genre,” “You need some scares to feel alive,” or just the old standby, “Stop being such a pansy-ass!” It’s like the litany of hack-job scripts, poor acting, minimal budget, and downright offensive material I’ve seen should be made up for by the rare successes that come through these days. And, I’ll be the first to admit – there’ve been plenty of ideas in the horror genre I really gravitate to, and, on occasion, I can see the appeal. It’s the sort of well-planned, truly creative stuff that makes me want to dive into the old Silent Hill games or skim through the endless “Top Horror Flicks of [Whatever Decade]” trolling for something I might try to fight my way through – wrapped in a blanket, with all the lights on, in the middle of the day, with my mother on speed dial.
Then there’s stuff like 2006’s See No Evil, starring Kane as serial killer Jacob Goodnight.
Oh boy, can we go any deeper on clichés and the failures of the slasher subgenre? After setting up the “rivalry” between Goodnight and police officer Williams (Steven Vidler) from the pair’s initial encounter in an abandoned house, the movie jumps forward to introduce our cast of delinquents, volunteered from the local prisons to help clean up an old hotel to be renovated into a house for the poor. I could start listing their names, but that would: A) Require them to have any truly defining characteristics besides trope personalities, gender, and race; and B) Ask that I actually gave a shit enough to follow that. Of course, by “crazy happenstance” (read: paper-thin plotting for a reveal you can see coming before I tell you about our SIDE CHARACTERS), Goodnight has been using the upper floors of the building as his hideout, leading to a string of snuffs across the cast.
Fair warning from here on out: I’m going to be spoiling parts of this movie. Because I need to highlight some key points. Also, it’s nearly ten years old, and if you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s probably best you just avoid the whole ordeal and let me save you 80 minutes of your life.
So of course you have all of your standard slasher targets: The Jackass Meathead, The Straight-Line Cop with a Past, The Woman Just Deciding to get Engaged, The Eerie One Who’s In No Way the Real Bad Guy, The Slut, The Black Guy, The Thief, The Hot One You Can’t Have, The Good Girl, and The Good Guy. There’s also a bonus in Witty Black Girl, so that’s a plus. Each plays more or less to trope, up to and including Straight-Line Cop Williams spouting exposition just before being offed to the “main” characters (Christina Vidal and Michael J. Pagan as Christine and Tye, respectively). As the survivors try to escape and are extinguished one by one, the movie gives us flashes of Jacob’s history. And, yes, you guessed it, he was an abused child of an overly-religious mother who wants to use him to cleanse the world of sin. Oh yes, we’ve NEVER heard that one before! Tack on to that a slew of bland murders that include a few that are truly groan-worthy (never trust stray dogs, kids), and you start to wonder what your life is worth, having to sit through this equally empty and insulting discharge the WWE tried to pass of as “a film.”
There are a few good points, though, sparse as they may be. Jacob stalks the halls early on with a massive meat hook on a chain, like some real-world Chained Devil from D&D 3.5. It’s cool to watch him swing it around and get a few gory catches, but it’s way underused for how impressive of a murder weapon it could be. We also get a few trope inversions, with The Slut (no, really, there’s a subplot about The Jackass Meathead having forced her into prostitution) and The Black Girl making it out of the film alive, but they also, for some asinine reason, let the most hate-able character get away, too, as Jackass, himself, gets to be in on the kill. Other than that, there’s some barely-scratched-at character bits for Goodnight that come in the last moments of the film that show some promise, trite as they may be, and, hey, at least it’s got Rachael Taylor in it, from before her stunning work in Marvel’s Jessica Jones. But none of these are reasons to make time at all.
Even if you’re able to overlook the lackluster cast, bad script, complete failure of a twist, and terrible pacing, See No Evil can’t even deliver on the gore or the scares. And I’m an anxiety-ridden baby with an overactive imagination and a complete disgust for ocular terror! Hell, I had nightmares about the goat from Drag Me to Hell, people! And this one did nothing. The eye-pulling, while unsettling, isn’t vicious enough to incite true pain or disgust, and is ultimately another failed plot thread. You won’t get shocked or scared by anything in this massacre of the movie making arts, so why even bother?