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See No Evil (Frank's Take)

01/06/2006. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy See No Evil in the USA - or Buy See No Evil in the UK

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In Gregory Dark's generically drab and diluted horror flick See No Evil, the raw-looking wrestler Glen Kane Jacobs grimaces as he revels in the manufactured mayhem courtesy of Dark's lackadaisical connect-the-dots direction.

See No Evil (2006) Lions Gate Films

It must be rewarding to be part of the pop cultural landscape if you're the prosperous Vincent K. McMahon, the top ringleader in that four-squared free-for-all frenzy known as professional wrestling. And it's not really an experimental gesture when securing one of McMahon's extremely popular WWE novelty acts, Glen "Kane" Jacobs (the former demented dentist Issac Yankum for avid wrestling fans from yesteryear).

After all, we have seen over the years the various half Nelson honchos from McMahon's slam-bam stable bring their exploits to the big screen. Among the mentioned are Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bolea, Duane "The Rock" Johnson, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Roddy Rowdy Piper, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Tiny "Zeus" Lister, Jerry "The King" Lawler...just to name a few.

Well, the casting of Kane does seem appropriate in this flaccid teen-scream flick given his weekly boob tube persona as the macabre monster in McMahon's twisted tongue-and-cheek sports entertainment universe. In Gregory Dark's generically drab and diluted horror flick See No Evil, the raw-looking wrestler grimaces as he revels in the manufactured mayhem courtesy of Dark's lackadaisical connect-the-dots direction. Actually, See No Evil is an inspired vehicle for showcasing Kane's talent as a lurking menace craving blood as much as a piglet squeals for mud pies. Unfortunately, Dark is never creative or calculating enough to lift Kane's one-dimensional creepy routine beyond a hulking sadist with the stimulating moody disposition of a blunt meat hook.

Dark, a former porn helmer, trades one form of fleshy fetishism for another-in this case, the skin-crawling antics are symbolic of the random slaughterhouse mentality that is indicative in aimless gorefests. First-time screenwriter Dan Madigan doesn't fare any better as this banal B-movie chiller wants to readily startle viewers with empty-minded visual carnage.

The main problem is that See No Evil never strays away from the same old conventional premise of mincemeat youngsters serving as a doomed dish for some uncontrollable sour-faced psycho. What may seem quite alarming could be Dark's noxious narrative dropping a few notches below the standard formula of most derivative slasher flicks. Mainly, this reckless and rabble-rousing dud doesn't try to instil anything intriguingly worthy of its gimmicky, gruesome confines. See No Evil may induce some animated winces along the way but Kane's beleaguered brute couldn't even hold a candle to the vintage mauling done by old-time classic cinematic sinners Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) or Freddie Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street).

The setting for this dim, dreary and delusional drama takes place at the Blackwell Hotel. Here, a bunch of juveniles are being held as detention inmates serving time for assorted felonies. Their punishment is to spend time repairing and cleansing the dilapidated building in exchange for easing up on their harsh sentencing. Overseeing these youthful reformers is an one-armed ex cop-turned-guard and two on-duty officers. These supervising individuals will prove to be vulnerable in protecting their charges and themselves when an old raging "blast from the past" pays an unexpected visit.

Unbeknownst to the visitors of the Blackwell, they will be harassed by the hotel's resident occupant-a balding behemoth (Glen "Kane" Jacobs) who conveniently lists "serial killer" on his blood-stained resume'. His mission: to slay away the bothersome workers toiling in his deadly domain. There's one thing that you can say about this misfit's methodical manner in which he dismantles his prey-it is indeed quite colourful for a lack of a better word. Whether these poor souls are butchered by a customary fire axe or from a hook-and-chain combo, our impulsive nut job has a spirited time slicing and dicing to the tune of his overactive inner demons.

The collaborative efforts of Dark and Madigan never fail to rehash the corrosive clichés that bombard the goose bump genre. Front and centre are the grainy flashbacks that detail the origins of our perturbed protagonist. Also, there are obligatory references to distant overbearing mothers, a misunderstood cretin in Kane's brooding beast, periled participants turning into fettered fatalities and intimate camera shots at creepy-crawly vermin to sweeten the morbid moodiness.

Overall, See No Evil is a faceless knockoff in the predictable tradition regarding the recent emergence of the profitable Saw movie series. According to Dark's perfunctory scare tactics, the dismemberment of limbs and screeching lungs should be enough to fulfil the common sadist's appetite. Unfortunately, the gluttonous level of terror displayed in Evil feels overwrought. Consequently, it never really connects with the sensationalistic tendencies it strains in conveying.

As far as movie monsters are concerned, Kane is indeed an intimidating freak in stature. He's strangely engaging and entertaining when under the playful perverseness of day job boss McMahon's televised spectacle. But under the theatrical tutelage of Dark, Kane is a mute muttonhead that barely registers as a credible stalker. In theory, he could be bigger than life but Dark handcuffs his villainous oddball as a simplistic destructive drone that grunts and garbles without much conviction. Even if See No Evil was feeble-minded in its drawn-out material, at least the movie's biggest asset-the festering sideshow Kane-could have been more riveting in all his monotonous brashness.

Some may feel complete by the rancid and ruthless stretches that Evil harbours in its congested heart. If only it took the time to capitalize compellingly on the madness that it wallows in so synthetically, See No Evil could have been a camp-driven creep show for the ages.

Frank Ochieng

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