See No Evil 2 (2014)
**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS**
Earlier this year I discussed which genre films I was eager to see in 2014 and anything with the Soska name on it was most definitely going to appeal. Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia have brought something groundbreaking to a male-dominated genre with their unique and versatile films, Dead Hooker in a Trunk (a love letter to Grindhouse and proof of what you can accomplish on a low-budget) and of course the beloved American Mary, the darkly stylish, character-focused and empowered 2012 hit. Since then the Twisted Twins have been hot property on the horror scene and fans around the world anticipated their next project. When it was first announced that they would be collaborating with WWE studios on a sequel to a forgettable 2006 slasher, See No Evil the scepticism set in. Working within the confines of a studio would place restrictions on the twins creatively dark minds, however one thing’s for certain, their take on See No Evil would be far superior than the original.
Prior to watching Jacob Goodnight’s latest slasher outing, I decided to check out the 2006 instalment for background as admittedly I hadn’t heard of the film until the sequel was announced. See No Evil is arguably one of the laziest slasher films ever created. It came at a time when the horror genre was dominated by extreme, shock cinema most popularly Saw and Hostel. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a stab at the sub-genre much like Adam Green successfully achieved with Hatchet, See No Evil added nothing. Its story is flimsy to non-existent, its poorly acted and Jacob Goodnight (played by WWE Superstar Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs) can’t be taken seriously as a villain, especially with the bits of dialogue he gets that comes off as unintentionally hammy. Kane comes across as a really awesome guy but there isn’t much material he could really work with. Clearly all that was expected was for him to emulate a Jason Voorhees type-monster because its proved successful in the past. See No Evil was as if Friday the 13th met Carrie in a really bad way and let’s not forget the cartoonish CGI effects. When going in to the first one, I had been pre-warned that its as generic as they come however I didn’t expect it to get my back up as much as it did. Therefore, it was certainly going to be interesting to see how Jen and Sylvia would improve on what can be described as a tedious and poorly-executed film.
The result: What’s most striking about the sequel is how flawless the cinematography and direction is, the twins demonstrate their love and appreciation for the genre as well as blending in the stylishness of American Mary, especially in the wonderfully constructed opening sequence which is a true treat for fans. Visually the film has a certain edge about it, there’s some excellent performances on show and some chilling, unexpected moments but despite this, I wasn’t entirely sold on the film which partially could be down to high expectations from two of my favourite female filmmakers and dismissing the fact that they didn’t have full creative control as with their previous projects. Or maybe because I wasn’t a fan of the first one this was also unlikely strike a chord.
See No Evil 2 picks up literally where the first one left off. Jacob Goodnight and the bodies of his unfortunate victims are rushed to the morgue following the bloodbath at the Blackwell hotel. Amy (Danielle Harris) is then forced to abandon her birthday plans and deal with the aftermath of Jacob’s massacre. Her friends decide to bring the party to her, their a quirky group who get more than they bargained for when a few drinks turns into a fight for their lives after Jacob mysteriously wake’s up ready to slaughter all over again!
The morgue setting is a great choice, its dark, confined and death is everywhere, Jacob has a string of different weapons at his disposal as the latest bunch of characters attempt to run and hide! In this sense the film really does show a glimmer of promise.
While See No Evil 2 is an improvement on the first, some of the same problems remain in the sense of it being generic and a million miles away from what the Soska’s are truly capable of. The characters have very little to offer and are stereotypical to the point that they could be found in any slasher movie. There were suggestions in the trailer that this would probably be some kind of satirical commentary on typical slasher films and that it would potentially push the boundaries due to the Katharine Isabelle dry humping Kane’s body scene. But sadly it is what it is, a conventional slasher made to cash in on the genre, a financial boost for WWE. As its so formulaic, by the time the film challenges what its set up, it comes in too late.
With that said, seasoned Scream Queen Danielle Harris is phenomenal as Amy, she’s a character we care for and the twist on her final girl status is interesting. Amy is the only real character is written with any depth with the others as throwaway. Harris of course shows us why she is incredible at the leading female role. Kaj-Erik Eriksen is sympathetic as love interest and co-worker Seth, probably the nicest character in the film, which is again superior to the original as there wasn’t one likeable character in it. Katharine Isabelle plays Tamara vastly different from Mary Mason which proves her talent as an actress. She clearly has a lot of fun with the role as its completely over the top but for me that was to the point of obnoxiousness. Tamara is similar to Gibb, Isabelle’s ‘party girl’ role in 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason but a bit more kinky and twisted, its a shame that wasn’t expanded on some more.
The whole premise of See No Evil 2 and the original does just feel senseless. Its a forced plot with a generic killer. There’s attempts at ‘humanizing’ Jacob but he’s just too underdeveloped for that. The repressed ‘mummy issues’ as a motive has been done to the death . There’s something about it that feels rushed and not thought through very well. Its a shame the twins didn’t get the opportunity to write it as we could be seeing a much greater film. Seeing them work with another screenwriters script is interesting. Their signature style is there but the content itself doesn’t match up to it.
The disappointment is that I really wanted to like this a lot. Jen and Sylvia Soska are incredibly talented people and idols to women within the genre and fans of the genre alike. It just seems that they are worth more than a run-of-the-mill slasher. See No Evil 2 is wholeheartedly better than the original and its clear a great deal of effort was put in this time round but its fair to say Jacob Goodnight should really say Good Night!
Hayley Alice Roberts.