See No Evil
May 20th, 2006
Ever heard of the wrestler called Kane? Yeah, neither have I. But the man has somehow talked his way into starring in the feature film, “See No Evil.” Yet another wide release a studio was scared of showing to the press before opening weekend, “Evil” lives up to that promise with hackneyed visual inspiration and bonehead screenwriting.
Even professional wrestling fans, as forgiving a group as there ever was, might have trouble swallowing this genre tripe.
Psychopath Jacob Goodnight (professional wrestler Kane) has holed up in the abandoned Blackwell Hotel to evade police attention and calm his violent tendencies. One day, eight teen criminals arrive at the hotel to serve their community service through clean up duties, supervised by the cop that once put a bullet in Goodnight’s head years earlier. When one of the group is captured by Goodnight, the rest of the teens search frantically for her, only to find that they are all prey for an unstoppable force determined to kill them all.
“See No Evil” is the first production from World Wrestling Entertainment Films, and hopefully it will be their last. Eager to sucker in the faithful by showcasing the stalking abilities of a popular grappler, “Evil” is a one-note genre offering that doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a banal collection of gore money shots.
How interesting is it that producer Vince McMahon hired director Gregory Dark to helm this rancid picture. Sure, his official bio lists a career innocently making music videos for Britney Spears and Mandy Moore, but Dark is probably better known as a once-prolific adult film director, responsible for such classics as “Hootermania.” Dark’s porn background comes in handy for the twisted mischief in “Evil.” The film is nothing but lurid, wet close-ups and pounding violence, with Dark acting far more attentive to Goodnight’s gruesome aftermath than to anything remotely dramatic that might draw the viewer in. Want logic? Backstory? An interesting, original visual palette? An elementary grasp on spatial relationships? At least reasonable acting? If so, I wouldn’t go near “Evil.” All this film cares about is pleasing the pushovers already licking their lips at any hint of half-baked ultraviolence.
The picture is such a disorganized blur that perhaps the viewer needs a background in wrestling appreciation to completely comprehend any of the action. Dark can only capture the mayhem with an unacceptable display of first-year film student trick shots (and lots of clichéd flashy editing); trying to make the two cents he’s been given for a budget look like four. Taking place almost entirely in drab hotel hallways (possibly the same one flipped back and forth), “Evil” tries to liven up the humdrum surroundings with ridiculously conceived deaths (eyes are gouged, one character gets her cell phone shoved down her throat, and another is eaten by starving dogs) and dangerously disrespectful film tributes. At least I hope they’re tributes. If not, I pray the Hitchcock estate sues the pants off screenwriter Dan Madigan (another wrestling vet) for stealing “Psycho” so blatantly to stitch together at least a hint of a reason why Goodnight stalks the young and foolhardy.
The main event in “Evil” is Kane, not any of the poorly cast nobodies that litter the rest of the ensemble. Sadly, Kane has all the cinematic presence of a shaved ape, and possesses acting skills that make Vin Diesel look like vintage 1974 Pacino. Granted, there’s not much for Kane to do except look confused, swing an axe, and grunt, but the guy can’t even make that simple acting goal jump off the screen. He’s a hulk, but instead of imposing, he comes off as a junior high bully with an eye socket fetish. Perhaps if Dark put in the same thought and monetary effort that it eventually takes to get rid of Goodnight into the rest of this nonsense, there might’ve been a sliver of a chance that “See No Evil” would’ve avoided becoming the grindingly awful picture it unfortunately is.
My rating: F