|While one might draw immediate visual parallels between Vincent D'Onofrio's "Carl Stargher" (the serial killer in 2000's The Cell) and Kane's "Jacob Goodnight," the serial killer showcased in See No Evil, it's with the make-up that the comparisons end. And despite the insistence by theatrical trailers and thirty-second television spots that the film is deliciously gory, its entire draw is with the physical horror rather than the mental terror that might have otherwise created a really gripping horror flick.
Resembling a low-budget slasher movie from the mid-1980's, it's probably a waste of time to suggest that See No Evil is devoid of true intellectual merit and originality. Would one expect a film financed by the WWE to involve something grandly literary? But regarding horror films and the fact that some of them are quite entertaining, a completely negative vote would belittle the efforts of the artists behind the camera who are responsible for the graphic, gory killings. Although horror aficionados might not see anything revolutionary or groundbreaking for the genre (after all, eye-puncturing can hold its allure for only so long), the gore-factor should satisfy audience members whose main draw is... the gore.
Generally, it is the ability of a actor to make you believe that he's really being hacked to pieces or that he's about to meet his maker that makes a horror film worth watching to its conclusion. It's not the scythe that gives you the adrenaline rush. It's the terror on someone's face when they see that scythe. A high dose of make-up artistry and a load eerie set decorations can't compensate for deficient performances that just aren't up to scratch as far as the cast's ability to convey true horror and fright. The most damning performance of the film is unfortunately that of lead actor Kane (that's the name he goes under as he body-slams his way through the WWE, his birth certificate suggests he was once called Glen Jacobs), who just can't conjure up anything more terrifying than his general hulking Frankenstein gait and stare.
Sure, he does some nasty graphic things to his unfortunate juvenile victims, but it's more the work of the sound editors and the cinematographer that help create the mood. In the absence of a viscerally terrifying monster, the pressure falls on his victims to create characters that are interesting (or dare we say intelligent?) for the audience to care about. Without a believably terrifying killer or realistically frightened victims, it's fortunate for audiences that this film barely hurdles over the eighty-minute mark (and that's with the end credits).
Director Gregory Dark, who seems to have been blessed with a quite suitable name for this genre, has a long and colorful resume in the world of adult films though it doesn't seem like his last name has aided his move to mainstream cinema. It's doubtful Dark was given a great heap of wonderful when he was handed the script for See No Evil, but despite deficiencies in the story and character development, it doesn't seem like he was able to pull a rabbit out of a hat here. Simply put: a bad script has turned into a mostly useless film.
While it might be most constructive to suggest that potential viewers of this film wait until the movie graces the shelves at your local video store, it bears suggesting that if graphic violence is your bag, there are already a few more deserving flicks on store shelves (Hostel and Dawn of the Dead come immediately to mind). In the realm of mindless slasher movies (the type where stupid teens to stupid things in the face of stupid psychopaths), this film certainly fits the bill. But there's no rule that says a film whose main draw is "inventive death" has to be brainless as well. Perhaps the WWE was hoping that the drawing power of its hulking star would be enough to draw audiences into the theater.
As far as the general entertainment value of this film is concerned, viewers would probably fare better and find themselves more easily drawn into the events of an actual WWE event. The big, goofy spectator sport of professional wrestling can be just as mindlessly engrossing as an episode of a daytime soap opera. Although it represents one of the first efforts by the WWE to break into the feature film market, the company is going to have to do a lot more to impress the general movie-going public for their next project. Perhaps they could hire memorable actors or a screenwriter whose talents go beyond a few humorous one-liners.
They don't need Einstein-like ideas circulating around their character's heads. They just need to focus on entertaining the audience. And while See No Evil seems to have had a talented technical crew, it doesn't matter how realistic that inch-deep pool of blood on the floor seems to be. If you don't care about the characters (whether they be on the side of good or evil), all other efforts by the filmmakers are futile. If this movie appeals to you on a must-see level, do your wallet a favor and wait the two months it'll take for Lions Gate to chuck the film onto DVD.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.