Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska
Distributed by Lionsgate
Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska took on the somewhat Herculean task of resurrecting Jacob Goodnight and the 2006 WWE Studios film See No Evil, a movie which holds a whopping 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the original does have some entertaining qualities, such as gruesome kills and the unlimited potential and perfect look of Glen Jacobs (legendary WWE wrestler Kane) as the killer.
Smartly, the Soska Sisters gleaned the positive aspects from the first film and then brought in some of their own ammunition for this sequel. Glen Jacobs returns as the absolutely diabolical looking serial killer Jacob Goodnight, and they make him even more terrifying by slapping a clear burn victim mask on him and providing him with impressive weapons, including something called a fleshing knife as well as a hook and chain reminiscent of the one used in the original film. As far as slashers go, no one may be more suited for the part than this real-life giant.
Joining Jacobs in the cast is the Soska’s not-so-secret weapon, Katharine Isabelle. After belting a home run with the twins as the star of their beloved film American Mary, there was no doubt the trio would team up again. And once again, Isabelle is a delight. She is, far and away, the most entertaining character in this movie. A complete departure from the more subdued Mary Mason character from her first go-around with the twins, Isabelle’s Tamara in See No Evil 2 is abuzz with energy and is so entertainingly animated with both body language and facial expressions that the audience can’t help but love her.
Along with Isabelle, the legendary Danielle Harris appears as well. Does anyone do pixie-cute and drop-dead sexy at the same time as well as Harris? And as the bodies begin to pile up around her, we also get a good look at why she’s become such a mainstay of the horror genre. Harris delivers her usual money-in-the-bank performance as Amy, an employee at the local morgue who is getting much more than she could have ever expected on her birthday, which happens to be the same night as the original Jacob Goodnight murders.
The new film picks up immediately where the original left off, as the bodies from the murder scene are being delivered to the morgue where the new movie takes place. Knowing that the real strength of See No Evil was its kill scenes, the Soskas brought in special effects guru Todd Masters, who brought all the nightmares in American Mary to life. And once again, gore fans will not be disappointed as Masters delivers one nasty kill after another, including one (I won’t give it away, but you’ll know it when you see it) that is a brilliant combination of digital and practical F/X that looks so outstanding you would swear it’s an actual throat being cut. Masterfully done, sir. Probably the most impressive piece of F/X work I’ve seen all year.
Fans of the Soskas will certainly see the Twisted Twins’ hands at work here. From The Shining-esque shots of the eerie morgue hallways to the gritty fluorescent lights and the way they turn seemingly simple things like a fleshing knife dropping into a puddle of blood or a shelf filled with jars of formaldehyde crashing to the floor into an artistic moment, it can all be found in See No Evil 2.
However, the problem with the film lies here as well. The Soskas’ previous movies, grindhouse love letter Dead Hooker in a Trunk and the aforementioned American Mary, were also written by Jen and Sylvia. See No Evil 2 was penned by writing team Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby, and it’s the first writing credit for either of them. And the difference shows. Where the Soskas’ previous films had original stories like we had never seen before, See No Evil 2 comes across almost as if it’s written using a”‘Serial Killer Movie Writing Instruction Guide.” With the first film absolutely lambasted for its lack of originality, one would think any attempt at a sequel would try to correct that flaw. Bringing in directors like the Soskas was a great start, but giving them a script to work with that is such a cookie-cutter slasher doesn’t help. The creepy location is set, the group of partiers who will be fodder for the killer arrive, and the slasher does his slashing. Thankfully, as mentioned, the F/X work is great and the Twins infuse enough of their own flavor that the familiarity of the story can be somewhat forgiven. Somewhat.
Fans of both the WWE and the Soskas will really enjoy the three special features on the DVD. Each runs about 10 minutes long. The first is entitled “Twisted Twins,” and it’s a great talk with Jen and Sylvia about their upbringing and start in directing. It also includes commentary from many of the stars of the film, including Harris, Isabelle, Jacobs, and Eklund, who all seemed to really enjoy their time working on See No Evil 2.
“Autopsy: Dissecting the Kills” is a featurette that does exactly what the title implies. F/X team head Todd Masters breaks down some of the more memorable deaths in the movie and gives us a little peek behind the curtain as to just how the magic is done. It’s a very cool segment for those who love seeing what makes the blood flow.
Lastly, “Kane’s Goodnight: An Icon Reborn” looks into Glen Jacobs’ career as Kane in the WWE as well as his two appearances as Jacob Goodnight, and we get some insight on the similarities and differences between his two marauding giants.
It would have been nice to see what the Soskas could have done with Jacob Goodnight if given full control of the script of See No Evil 2. As it was, some of the rewrites that were made put the power in the hands of the great female characters played by Harris and Isabelle, but it would have certainly been interesting to have seen how dark this story could get instead of just piling up the bodies and letting Goodnight whack away. Although as whacking away at helpless victims goes, there may not be a more suitable man to do it than Glen Jacobs. He’s been playing some variation of the remorseless marauder Kane for the better part of 20 years. He knows how the job is done.
If you’re in it for some cool kills done by a cool killer as seen through the eyes of the Twisted Twins and you don’t mind the fact that the story is pretty typical, you’ll dig See No Evil 2.
- “Twisted Twins” featurette
- “Autopsy: Dissecting the Kills” featurette
- “Kane’s Goodnight: An Icon Reborn” featurette