Director: Gregory Dark
Writer: Dan Madigan
Producer: Joel Simon
Stars: Kane, Christina Vidal, Michael J. Pagan, Samantha Noble, Steven Vidler, Cecily Polson, Luke Pegler, Rachael Taylor, Penny McNamee, Craig Horner, Mikhael Wilder, Tiffany Lamb
A silent killer who gouges out his victims’ eyes stalks a group of young criminals sentenced to clean up an abandoned hotel.
After an opening credits montage of dirty cages, creepy dolls, and crawling cockroaches, two police officers cautiously stalk a dilapidated building with their guns drawn and their flashlights pointed. “Shouldn’t we wait for backup?” wonders one cop. “You wait!” replies the other. Noting the hallway of horrors they’ve entered with bloody handprints on the walls, the shocked officer asks, “are you checking this out?” A crucifix sways in silhouette. An eerie children’s choir sings on the record player in the background. All the classic cues pulled from page one of The Beginner’s Guide to Basic Slasher Moviemaking are represented in one form or another. It’s a conventional opening to a conventional film.
The scene plays out. The title cards finish. Flash forward to four years later. The passage of time is illustrated by the surviving cop, now missing one hand, having gone nearly bald in the interim. He currently works as a guard supervising incarcerated delinquents on a coed work program to clean up a derelict hotel aiming to reopen as a homeless shelter. Because what can go wrong when you mix eight aspiring young criminals of both genders inside a maze-like old building with only two chaperones?
The ladies’ side of the aisle is occupied by a granola-eating good girl, nose-pierced punker with a pretty pout, rich bitch blonde, and wife-beater-wearing ethnic tough girl. The young men consist of a buffoonish bad boy, wannabe suave Latino, rugby-shirted dork, and token black guy.
To lend their stereotypes some style, the characters are introduced with weird freeze-frame mugshots and rap sheet nameplates. To demonstrate their personalities, they deliver dialogue like, “I heard Chihuahua attack” as a speculative insult for their injured supervisor’s amputation. Everyone snickers, since this is evidently the kind of witty quip that cracks up fearsome felons in training.
You’ll notice I have not yet summarized the actual plot of “See No Evil”. But if you were to guess serial stalker starts offing the young crooks one at a time, I would counter by asking, “what took you so long?”
As the mysterious madman, seven-foot-tall WWE superstar Glenn “Kane” Jacobs has an unquestionably commanding presence of imposition. Although without makeup, a mask, or a distinctive costume, his Leatherface/Myers/Krueger/Voorhees fill-in is basically a big mute brute. Kane is as good as he needs to be for a role requiring only a stuntman to swing heavy objects and utter two lines, one of which is just a single word.
So why a mixed rating for a mostly derivative movie? The question comes down to who “See No Evil” is made for. It’s not a palate pleaser for horror aficionados seasoned on all things slasher. Unless hard up for fresh paint on an old premise, there’s no reason to rent a room here when one can find friendlier accommodations in any of the contemporary chillers it draws/steals inspiration from.
No, this is a movie made for a less-discerning audience of teens and twentysomethings who maybe see one such killer thriller a year, if that many. “See No Evil” is a product of its 2006 release year, when Platinum Dunes was cresting its peak of polarizing audiences with remakes and prequels for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Amityville Horror,” and “The Hitcher.” Lump in the “Hills Have Eyes” redux, and you’re talking about a time when the focus was not on impressing genre fans, but on dazzling budding young hipsters with slick visuals, comely casts, and popcorn fare for a Friday night midnight movie.
Like it or not, and all is forgiven for falling into that latter category, “See No Evil” hurdles this low bar it sets for itself. Some creativity with the kills, like the silly shoving of a cell phone down one person’s throat, offers a side of gallows charm to the splattery gore. But right down to the lowbrow epilogue and attitudinal hip-hop song accompanying the end credits, this is a film with intentionally limited goals for its appeal. And it meets all of them.
Movies such as “See No Evil” are like a candy bar for the health conscious. Have one infrequently and the creamy nougat of horror tropes and caramel coating of senselessly slaughtered coeds go down smooth and tasty as a guilty pleasure. Gorge yourself on this sort of junk food regularly and you’ll only make yourself sick, bloated, and aching for a nap.
NOTE: There is a mid-credits scene.
Review Score: 50