31 Days of Halloween Hysteria: “See No Evil”

Oh, for the sweet release of death...
Not the kind of hooker these kids expected to meet…

Slasher movies are supposed to be fun, aren’t they?  Moderately transgressive teens getting not entirely justified punishment for comparitively minor infractions to underscore Western cultural and moral norms – that’s what we’re watching these movies for, much to the chagrin of film critics and self-appointed moral crusaders.  What to do, then, with a film like 2006’s “See No Evil”, which is about as much fun as a hook in the unmentionables?

One of the first features to bear the WWE films banner, “See No Evil” attempts to create a new multiplex maniac in the form of Jacob Goodnight, a seven-foot tall hack-and-slashologist driven doolally by a childhood of artily-staged and grisly religious oppression by Mommy Dearest.  Goodnight’s ocularly-fixated rampage is abruptly curtailed by a heroic cop, Williams (Steven Vidler), who gets his man but loses an arm in the process.

Cut to several years later and Williams is now heading up a work-release programme for at risk juvenile detainees, who are tasked with cleaning up a dingy rundown hotel in exchange for a month-long reduction on their sentences.  In an example of remarkable optimism about human nature, the group is comprised of overheated teens of all persuasions who can’t go a second without sparking up a joint, punching each other’s lights out or attempting to have the kind of unprotected pre-maritals which are as music to the ears of  the hotel’s special guest, our axe and hook-handed friend, Jacob.

So far, so slashy-slashy.  But there’s a problem.  And, it’s a doozy.

Most of these kids are unlikeable ass-hats.  There are perhaps two characters in the ensemble who wouldn’t benefit from one of Jacob’s signature kills, the forcible eye-removal via pointy finger gambit, and at least one of those is amongst the first of the group to be gorily smacked-down.  We’re left with a group of kids who are so venally stupid as to present a threat to the human gene pool if they survive their night in Jacob’s run-down lair.   However, arguably the worst offender therein, Mike the misogynist pimp wannabe, somehow makes it to the end credits somewhat unscathed.  What gives?

I can only assume that auteur Gregory Dark (he of the NSFW filmography – Google at your peril) is making some kind of point about society in that the cruellest and most unscrupulous amongst us prosper at the expense of nice mousy girls who are kind to stray dogs.  I’d like to think that, but I’m pretty certain that no such subtext is to be found amidst the eye trauma, omnipresent grime and obnoxiously in your face sound design.

Everything culminates in some much-needed and slightly too late character development for Jacob Goodnight, which allows Glenn Jacobs to demonstrate that he has some acting ability, just in time for that time-wasting stuff to be jettisoned for some more chasing around crawlspaces, lift-shafts and the inevitable besting of the Big Bad.  A defeat which, to this viewer, seemed so completely splattery that it precluded any further outings for the sin-punishing psycho.

Inevitably, I’m way off base as the Soska Sisters-directed sequel is due for release on VOD and DVD/Blu-Ray later this month:

 

Evidently, you can’t keep a good (or slicing and dicing) man down.  But, two of the pre-eminent Final Girls in horror cinema in the same movie, the Twisted Soska Sisters calling the shots and his Kane-ness sporting a wrassling-style mask for a new bout of gutting and glowering?  There’s always the possibility that the sequel improves on the original, isn’t there?

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