Movie Review

Splatterfest 'See No Evil' is predictably grim

Star TribuneMay 19, 2006 

It might be hard to imagine a career move that is a step down from directing porn videos, yet Gregory Dark has accomplished just that with his feature-film debut, "See No Evil."

Dark, whose Internet Movie Data Base resume lists dozens of videos you won't find at Blockbuster, transfers his expertise with thrashing bodies to death throes and arterial blood sprays in this repugnant splatterfest.

Shifting from one genre of cheap, gratuitous entertainment to another does not unlock any wellsprings of creativity. "See No Evil" merely relocates the predictable events of a teens-get-killed-in-the-woods movie into a decaying hotel. The kids are male and female delinquents working off jail time by cleaning up the spooky old building for a community service project.

Unbeknownst to them, homicidal behemoth Jacob Goodnight (WWE wrestler Kane) lurks in the shadows, picking off members of the randy, quarrelsome group in extravagantly grisly ways. The film is essentially a series of teens doing the 50-yard survival sprint and falling just short of the finish line.

To carry us through the boring scenes -- the ones between the opening credits and the end credits -- there are many vile atmospheric touches -- frequent, teasing false scares, cutaway shots of the rats, roaches and other vermin infesting the hotel, and repeated flashbacks to the psychological trauma that set Jacob on his murderous path. The film tries to invest its homicidal leading man with a degree of tragic humanity, which is more emotional freight than the rickety structure can bear.

In his screen debut, Kane's no Andre the Giant, but he's nearly as good as his lookalike, Tor Johnson, the bald Swedish wrestler who was a regular in the films of Ed Wood.

The 80-minute film's high point arrives in the epilogue, where vanquished villains are often revived in a late-breaking plot twist, opening the creaky door to a sequel. Instead, a stray dog trots up to the scene of Jacob's demise and delivers the coup de grace by giving him the fireplug treatment. If Dark has learned one lesson in his earlier career, it is, "Don't say it, spray it." After seeing his film you may want to take a thorough shower to make sure he didn't get any on you.

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