by Dawn Taylor
You know how, when you're on a road trip, you end up stopping at Denny's for a meal because, well, you know just what to expect from that experience? There's comfort in the knowledge that a Super Bird turkey sandwich is exactly the same whether you're in Wichita or San Luis Obispo. The folks at McDonald's and Starbucks know this and, it would seem, so does director Gregory Dark, who's made a decent, if unexciting, slasher flick that dishes up standard-issue mayhem without any surprises.Dark is one of the notorious Dark Brothers of porn. After a lateral career move to directing Britney Spears videos, he's dipped his toe into the feature film world with this movie, co-produced by WWE Films and starring a wrestler named Kane. I don't follow wrestling, but WWE honcho Vince McMahon is a marketing genius – apparently Kane has a WWE "storyline," concurrent with the release of the film, in which he's so traumatized by something having to do with the film's release date that he goes crazy and attacks anyone who utters it. Sweet.
"I kind of wish I hadn't, actually."
The film was screened, as horror films so often are these days, quite late the night before the opening in order to cut out the print journalists. The audience included the usual screening rats who show up for every free film no matter what the subject matter, but they were definitely in the minority among a rowdy crowd of low-slung jeans-wearing miscreants, hopped-up wrestling fans and your basic lowest-common-denominator, got-passes-free-from-a-radio-station demographic. One especially obnoxious fellow entertained the assembled masses pre-show by loudly offering self-deprecating remarks about his missing fingers to strangers, waving his digit-deficient hand in people's faces and acting as if he was spoiling for a fight. Waiting for the film to start was positively Felliniesque – all that was missing was a couple of midgets and some nuns.
And they ate "See No Evil" up with a spoon. Well, more like a plastic spork, but you get my drift. Which is interesting because the film itself is unremarkable – a co-ed group of juvenile delinquents on a weekend work-release program are tasked with cleaning up a spooky, burnt-out hotel so, of course, a big, creepy guy starts killing them. In a slight nod to some sort of actual plot, one of the two guards/officers/meatbags in attendance, Williams (Steven Vidler) previously had his hand hacked off by this same hulking lug in the line of duty whilst trying to save one of the killer's victims. The aforementioned wrestler, Kane, plays the hulking lug, whose name is Jacob Goodnight. To my recollection, his name is never mentioned in the course of the movie, but that's what he's called in the credits – I suppose that's because there may be action figures or sequels in the future and "the bald guy from 'See No Evil'" doesn't really roll off the tongue.
Listing the names of the actors who play the kids would be a waste of time, because you don't know who any of them are, although there's the tiniest chance that they may do better work some day (Kevin Bacon was in "Friday the 13th," after all). All of the standard slasher movie types are represented: The Stuck-Up Blonde Slut, The Obnoxious Asshat, The Computer Geek, The Nice Girl Who Got a Raw Deal, and Expendable Ethnic Fellows Nos. 1 and 2. There's also a not-so-nice girl that the nice girl likes who has a lot of freaky religious-themed tattoos, so Kane/Jacob doesn't kill her right away and sticks her in a cage. All of the girls in this film look as if they jumped at the chance to work with Gregory Dark – not for the big break that might lead to more features or a sitcom, mind you, but because it might be their entree into the glamorous world of hot girl-on-girl, double-penetration action.
Oh, the killer guy likes to squeeze out his victims' eyeballs and keep them in jars. In case you were wondering about the title.
Dark obviously did a lot of research for his big-screen debut, watching hours of David Fincher movies and Nine Inch Nails videos for inspiration. It's all very artsy in that shallow focus, heavily art directed way and there are a couple of giggle-inducing ultra-gory deaths, but there's just not much to it. The script was written by a fellow who writes those storylines for WWE wrestlers – and it shows. Granted, it's very efficient in the way it gets the characters into the hotel and then, bam, the killing starts. But the kids are all either unsympathetic or lacking in character development entirely, and the flashbacks designed to explain Kane/Jacob's motivations are all boilerplate "mommy was a psycho" stuff, shot in such a way that it looks like outtakes from a Pearl Jam video. For what it is, it's not terrible – but it just isn't much.That said, the motley assortment gripping free passes in their sweaty little hands cheered, laughed and shrieked throughout, and many were heard to remark that they found it brilliant. Compared to the usual fare that WWE presents, that may be true – but anyone who's seen more than a handful of truly well-crafted horror flicks will be less than impressed by Dark's banal, shallow dabbling in splatter.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14537&reviewer=413
originally posted: 05/20/06 05:20:29