What do you get when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and a former adult filmmaker come together to make a slasher movie? The answer – See No Evil. Since its formation, WWE Studios has largely produced low-budget action and horror movies headlined by their own professional wrestling stars. Fun fact – WWE Studios has released six The Marine movies. John Cena only stuck around for one. On the other hand, they also produced the underrated Mohawk and co-produced Oculus. One of its early successes, See No Evil was a minor box office success despite critics universally hating it. Most moviegoers were also pretty underwhelmed. But even the most derivative slasher movie can prove entertaining if it has the right ingredients. After 14 years is See No Evil due for a critical re-appraisal? Or is it still just a bad movie?
Four years ago, Officer Frank Williams lost his partner and his arm saving a woman from a depraved, hulking madman. The killer, Jacob Goodnight, was presumed dead after Williams shot him in the head. Now a youth correctional officer, Williams takes a group of delinquents to clean up the abandoned Blackwell Hotel. But an old friend is waiting from Williams inside the decayed walls of the hotel. Armed with a giant hook, a very much alive Jacob Goodnight stalks the hotel’s newest guests. With no way out, the teens and Williams have no choice but to band together and fight for survival.
See No Evil Offers Little More Than Disposable Gore
On paper, See No Evil is a standard slasher movie. Director Gregory Dark and writer Dan Madigan dutifully check off most of the requisite boxes. Little about the movie feels fresh. Even causal horror fans should have no trouble spotting the Final Girl and picking out who’s most likely to die. And speaking of characters, most of them are quite unlikable and predictably split up to make for easy pickings. Aside from some brief gratuitous nudity, See No Evil double-downs on the necessary kills and gore. In this regard, WWE Studios at least somewhat delivers on expectations. There are a handful are suitably gory, creative kills. Goodnight’s habit of plucking out the eyes of victims may satisfy gorehouds. Arguably, the best of these scenes is when Jacob Goodnight shoves a cellphone down a character’s throat. Unfortunately, some poor CGI squanders the climax.
…Dark may know the ‘words’ but he doesn’t know the ‘music’. See No Evil feels as lifeless as Jacob Goodnight’s victims.
In addition to its utterly derivative approach to the material, See No Evil is both scare- and style-free. Dark is in over his head here and it shows in the poor execution that defines this slasher. Expect absolutely no scares – not even cheap jumps. This is an 85-minute movie that feel much longer. Similar to its story, Dark appears to have watched several recent horror movies and tried his best to copy the aesthetics. In particular, See No Evil wants to look like the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre or a Saw movie. But Dark may know the ‘words’ but he doesn’t know the ‘music’. See No Evil feels as lifeless as Jacob Goodnight’s victims. Some choppy, disorienting editing only exacerbates the movie’s myriad of problems.
Unlikable Characters and a Flat Killer Might Have You Saying ‘Goodnight’ Early
No one expects award-winning performances in slasher movies. Moreover, the subgenre dictates that some characters should be unlikable canon fodder. Still Madigan’s screenplay collects a bunch of horror movie cliches and assembles them into ‘characters’. Poor Christina Vidal does her best to inject some life into her ‘Final Girl’. Though she’s not entirely successful, it’s no fault of her own, and she escapes this slasher relatively unscathed. Marvel Fans will recognize one of Goodnight’s victims, Rachel Taylor, who eventually moved on to better things in the Jessica Jones Netflix series. The rest of the cast, or ‘body count’, is unremarkable.
Still Madigan’s screenplay collects a bunch of horror movie cliches and assembles them into ‘characters’.
As the massive Jacob Goodnight, professional wrestler Kane (Glenn Jacobs) was made for the role. Of course, WWE Studios made the role for him, so it makes sense. To some extent, See No Evil uses Jacobs’ physical presence to some effect. Madigan’s inclusion of a fanatical religious upbringing for Goodnight’s origins at least adds minimal character to the killer. Nonetheless, Jacob Goodnight doesn’t make the impression the movie needs to rise above its generic trappings. Both Kane Hodder and Derek Mears have given horror fans memorable hulking killers with little to no dialogue. Whether Goodnight’s flat impact is a script problem or Jacobs’ limitations is debatable.
See No Evil Delivers Pretty Much As Advertised
Sometimes you get exactly what you expect. And See No Evil serves up exactly the kind of unimaginative slasher movie that it advertised. The creative contributions of an adult filmmaker and personnel from a wrestling company result in an occasionally gory, always dull, horror movie. This is mindless entertainment that barely rises to the threshold of what constitutes entertainment. Feel free to get up and do other things while watching See No Evil. You won’t miss much. At least the inevitable sequel proved to be an improvement over this one.