The first See No Evil was released ten years ago now, the product of the (to my mind) somewhat inexplicable WWE Studios. A slasher with religious overtones starring Kane as Jacob Goodnight, a man who liked to tear people’s eyes out so he could see their sin, it never quite took off as I imagine the studio wanted it to. Much to many viewers’ surprise, then, eight years after the original, a second film appeared.
This sequel takes place immediately after the events of the first film – following the massacre at the Blackwell Hotel, the bodies are being brought into the city morgue. Mortician Amy (Danielle Harris), preparing to leave her job to go out with some friends for her birthday, chooses instead to stick around, work the graveyard shift and help her colleagues with the deliveries. Her boss allows her friends to throw a birthday party in the morgue instead. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when supposedly deceased serial killer Jacob Goodnight comes back to live and begins to murder his way around the morgue, leaving the group fighting for their lives.
See No Evil is one of those movies that is always on the Horror Channel, and I’ve seen it more than a few times. As such, I sat down to this sequel expecting more of the same – a gory slasher that thought it was smarter than it actually was (there’s a fantastic moment in it where Goodnight murders someone with their mobile phone that is worth a watch, but not much else). Kane is fantastic at exuding brute force and being a physical menace extraordinaire, but he simply does not have the acting talent required to portray the psychologically tortured man child the movie wanted him to be.
But this was something different. I mean, it’s still a slasher, but it pretty much strips away the religious layers of the first movie and, in making it a straight slasher, it makes this film much better.
This is in part due to the horror talent behind this sequel. It is stylistically directed by the Soska sisters (who are one of the big driving forces behind unique and interesting horror nowadays) and it stars two of our modern scream queens, Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle, doing the best with the somewhat naff material they’ve been given. Harris is fine as the lead, even though her approach to Amy may be considered a bit over the place – one scene, fleeing from Goodnight, she finds the time to stop and cry about her friends being dead. A moment later, she’s off quipping with her love interest Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen, who I thought looked like a skinnier Seth Rogen) about why she choose not to become a doctor in a major case of mood whiplash.
Better, I think, is Isabelle, who is never worse than good anyway. She is far more interesting as the necrophilic party girl who is the first to stumble across the living Goodnight, and she provides most of the humour too. The rest of the cast do what they need to do, but there’s not much to them – a lot of them exit to be killed, and so their characters are pretty much cannon fodder, with nothing more to them than the actors who play them.
The film is a solid slasher, which plays with conventions of horror as well as reinforcing them. We have a hulking killer with the ability to skulk around undetected despite his size and appear wherever the victims are, able to rise from the dead on a whim and get the gore going with whatever he finds lying around. It also subverts the things we may expect to see in a slasher, with one of the more notable jumps arising towards the end because of this.
Although solid, it is not perfect. There are issues aplenty watching, such as morticians unable to find their way around the building in which they work while the serial killer who just arrived can navigate perfectly and move like a panther on steroids, and a final scene that feels tacked on solely in case of a sequel. Even so, it is competently made and a fun slasher that delivers exactly what it sets out to do.
Director: Jen and Sylvia Soska
Cast: Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs (Jacob Goodnight), Danielle Harris (Amy), Katharine Isabelle (Tamara), Chelan Simmons (Kayla), Kaj-Erik Eriksen (Seth), Greyston Holt (Will)
Running Time: 90 Mins