"I thought my hood was bad".
As you may have noticed, we have a soft spot for wrestling here at RevSF. It's mainly Joe (the prosecution offers Champions of the Galaxy into evidence), but he's not alone. I'm an on again/off again fan, depending on the characters and storylines that are going on. I'm in an off phase, but I was on back when they introduced Kane, twisted brother of the Undertaker character. Undertaker is big, mean and scary. Kane was shorter, but still big and mean -- and scarier, because the character was mute and a complete psychopath. It makes him a great wrasslin' villain, and more importantly, marketable.
Now, the WWE has always worked on spreading their brand and their characters into other media outside the squared circle. There was a cartoon show, RPGs, magazines, and comics. Various wresters have also been in the movies. Jesse Ventura was in Predator, Tyler Mane was in X-Men, The Rock has become an action star with DOOM and The Scorpion King, Hulk Hogan is responsible for many cinematic travesties, and then there's the all time great Andre the Giant's turn as Fezzik in The Princess Bride.
Now the WWE is making its own movies staring their talent. Their first release is the horror film See No Evil. Horror movies are great first choices for new studios, as you usually can film them fairly cheaply, needing only a thin plot and a cast of unknowns, so they almost always make money. Many studios used their Freddy and Jason money to pay for their "serious" projects. This is why there were so many cheap horror flicks back in the '80s, and why they're still made to this day. All we horror fans can hope for is that some of them will be good. Or at least fun. See No Evil . . . well, it's interesting.
See No Evil is the story of deranged serial killer Jacob Goodnight (Kane). Jacob is a hulking brute who killed women and then pulled out their eyes. He racked up an impressive body count until he was shot and apparently killed by police officer Williams (Steven "'Salem's Lot" Vidler), but not before Jacob took Williams' left hand. Why Jacob took his victims' eyes is a mystery that the movie goes on to reveal, but it's nothing more than a hook, really.
We flash forward a bit later, and Williams now works at a juvie facility. This supplies our teen victims to be smacked down by Jacob -- a co-ed cast of thieves, a drug dealer, his ex, one animal rights activist (in for busting open a pound), and our heroine Christine (Christina "Freaky Friday" Vidal), the good girl who got a raw deal. See, she was defending her sister from her step-dad, so she's not like the other kids. We're supposed to like her. I'd list their names, but they're so cliche and forgettable that I've already forgotten them past their archetype.
Anyway, our group of teens and their two minders, Williams and Hannah (Tiffany "The Lost World" Lamb) are going to be spending a weekend helping renovate the old burned out Blackwell Hotel. It's huge, grungy, and infested with bugs and rats. Oh, and our psycho killer lives on the upper floors.
The hotel was built by a wealthy eccentric and is filled with secret passages, two-way mirrors and every thing else a madman could want in the latest prey-stalking conveniences. It's being converted into a homeless shelter, and for their three days work on fixing up the joint, the teens get one month taken off their sentence. One exposition and cleaning montage later, the killings begin.
See No Evil is a throwback to the Friday the 13th version of horror. We have naughty teens fornicating, doing drugs and other bad behavior. This gets them stalked by a hulking monster of a man who uses various implements to maim, torture and kill them for their sins. What's different is the movie actually spends time letting us see why Jacob is the mad killer of youth, by way of flashbacks. He also has a few scenes that are supposed to make us empathize with him a little. But he's still a mad killer like our Mr. Voorhees, but without a mask.
Kane has a great presence. He's a huge beast of a man, and grabs your attention when he's on screen. He also does a good job of giving us a feel for the character while having exactly one line in the whole movie. There are two scenes in particular where he really impressed me with his acting.
Throw in good music, mild gore, mild nudity (no breasts, just buns). Also, the hotel is very well done. The set designers really made this a believable nasty old building. The director Gregory Dark has a great eye and feel for horror, and I'd like to see him make more scary flicks. He keeps the tension at a good level though the movie.
Dark sets up some great shots, and there was one bit where we flash from running teens to running rats. I thought this was a great and subtle way to echo how the teens were doomed like rats in a trap. Either that, or it was just a cool shot that I'm reading too much into.
I know that Dark started in porn and is trying to break out, and if Traci Lords could go from porn star to genre star, then he should be able to make the same transition. Especially as he directed Traci back in the flesh days.
Unfortunately, See No Evil's plot is almost non-existent, it takes a while to get to the action, and the teens are just echoes of thumbnails, so we don't really care enough about them to get scared for them. Of course, the movie is pushing Kane as the focus of the movie, like the aforementioned Jason, and it's easier to root for him when he's wasting people you don't care about.
When all is said and done, See No Evil is a good vehicle for Kane, a decent start for WWE films, and a mild diversion for horror and wrestling fans. It's not a great film, it's barely a decent film, but it's not a terrible film. Or, to use the yardstick of the series that this film is in the spirit of, it's more Friday the 13th VII – The New Blood than it is VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan.