MPAA Rating: R
Directors: The Soska Sisters
Starring: Danielle Harris, Katharine Isabelle, Chelan Simmons, Kaj-Erik Eriksen, Glenn Jacobs
See No Evil 2 is a slasher release produced by WWE Studios starring professional wrestler Kane (or Glenn Jacobs to his mother) as the ‘towering-can’t-be-killed-bad-guy’ Jacob Goodnight. Let’s reflect on a couple of things before we move any further: WWE Studios and a former professional wrestler trying to create a new iconic horror slasher. This combination may raise a few eyebrows but before we dismiss this film out of hand just because of a professional wrestler’s involvement let me remind you of little John Carpenter movie called They Live starring Canadian wrestler Roddy Piper. Director Adam Green has also tried to create a new horror icon, Victor Crowley, in the Hatchet franchise but what people seem to forget is that horror icons take time to develop. Just take a look at Halloween; it came out in 1978 and it took years for Michael Myers to become part of our pop culture. So will Goodnight’s character ever manage to become an icon of slasher movies? Let’s give it 10 years or so and see what happens.
The script of this film bears a strong resemblance to 1981’s Halloween II, reproducing elements that made the latter a success in that it features an evil killer laying waste to a medical facility on the night of his capture or discovery. The main difference is that here Goodnight is believed to be dead when taken to a morgue where he continues his killing spree, while in Halloween II the killer goes after the heroine who has been transferred to the hospital and goes on to increase the body count.
The storyline is not without its flaws, so what makes this film worth watching? Great acting and direction save this film. Directing duo Jen and Sylvia Soska (a.k.a. The Soska Sisters) are most noted for creative horror piece American Mary and are certainly two directors for devotee to keep an eye on. In this case, they improved a mediocre script with their shot composition, direction of actors and creative killings. However, I really wish they had somehow utilised the exit signs during the chase scenes. Maybe it’s a nod to slasher flicks in general as the characters do nothing to help themselves and end up getting killed or perhaps it’s simply an oversight because throughout the movie we can see exit signs everywhere but no one seems to take advantage of them. I’d prefer to give Jen and Sylvia the benefit of creative doubt for this one instead of accepting it as an oversight. For me, the Soskas’ mark of excellence was definitely the scene of Kayla’s (Chelan Simmons) accidental murder as she’s trying to escape Goodnight’s rampage by planting her neck into his huge knife. A perfectly executed scene.
This movie has two notable actresses in it, Danielle Harris (Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers/Hatchet III) and Katharine Isabelle (American Mary). These established actresses deliver great performances and leave their mark on the film. Kane’s performance as Goodnight was notably enhanced by his physique. Take a look at Tyler Mane in Halloween and Kane Hodder in Hatchet and you will notice similarities. Part of what makes their characters effective is down to their strong physical presence. Kane can certainly pull off the evil tough guy look and also does a great job to communicate it with his body language. He even manages to make a good job out of delivering a short conversation in a creepy Norman Bates-style voice with his dead mother, which was a rather unexpected element to this film.
The other lead, Kaj-Erik Eriksen, showed great on-screen chemistry with Harris while other minor players, including Greyston Holt, Chelan Simmons and Lee Majdoub, delivered great performances as well. Their delivery of the collective brooding stupidity usually seen in this genre really helped elevate the movie as a whole.
What we are left with in the end is a surprisingly decent horror movie. I admit that despite the Soska name dropping I was dubious even up until the point I hit play. However, direction and acting won me over in spite of the story’s shortcomings.
We might not be able to tell if Goodnight is or will be a horror icon just yet as these things can take time. The unique thing about horror films is that they are like a fine wine in that they tend to get better with age. It can take time for everything in a film to get noticed and sink in so only time will tell how much of a classic this film will be. For the time being, though, this is a solid slasher for everyone to enjoy.
Special Features: Twisted Twins featurette, Autopsy: Dissecting the Kills featurette, Kane’s Goodnight: An Icon Reborn featurette.
US Release Date: October 21, 2014