See No Evil marks the first film from WWE films and the big screen debut of Glen Jacobs, better known to wrestling fans as Kane. Now, films which feature wrestlers tend to be really hit or miss. For every They Live there's a Suburban Commando waiting in the wings. Wrestler's aren't really known for their acting abilities, they're known for beating each other up. Thankfully, it seems that director Gregory Dark (yes, that Gregory Dark) and writer Dan Madigan realize this, as that's what Kane does here – he runs around and clobbers everyone.
The premise of the movie is simple – it begins when a cop named Williams (Steven Vidler) and his partner bust into a crime scene to find a bunch of corpses and a woman, still alive, with her eyes plucked out. A massive bald guy moves in and takes down the partner with an axe, chopping off Williams hand before taking a bullet to the head. Four years later, Williams is working in a prison for young men. He and a correction's officer from a prison for young women decide to grab four of their finest inmates and put them on a bus so that they can ship them down to the bad part of town and make them clean up a run down building that used to be the Blackwell Motel. It seems this place was made as sort of a vanity project for a rich weirdo who liked to watch, so there are hidey holes and secret passageways all over the place. At any rate, if these prisoners, none of whom dress in prison garb, spend the weekend cleaning the building for the kindly old lady from the historical society, they'll get a month taken off their sentences.
Soon enough, the prisoners are running around unsupervised and smoking weed and flirting with one another. Two of the guys find blueprints of the hotel and decide to try and find the safe that is rumored to have been there since a fire broke out decades ago. The problem is that it's supposedly up towards the top floors where they've been instructed not to go. They do it anyway, and soon learn the error of their ways. The massive bald guy who killed Williams' partner is still out there and he's using this run down old building as his new hunting grounds.
So essentially See No Evil is ninety-minutes of Kane running around killing off annoying twenty-somethings? Yeah, pretty much. There's a sub-plot here and a sub-plot there but the core of the story and what makes up the bulk of its running time is that Kane gets to kill people. Some of these kills are pretty creative – a girl is forced to eat her own cell phone for example – and many of them involve eye-plucking, which is always nice, but there's really not much more to the film than that. With that said, Kane is perfect for the part. He's big, he's scary, and he looks like someone who would make you eat your own cell phone or pluck out your eyes. He has almost no dialogue at all which means he spends most of his time looking big and scary but he does that well. Too bad the same can't be said for the rest of the cast members, none of whom are any better than mediocre.
The script for the film is definitely problematic. There are issues here, big issues. Why is there power to the top floors where no one has been for the last two decades? Why are none of the inmates wearing prison garb? Why would the corrections officers let the inmates run around completely unsupervised while sitting at the bar doing shots from a flash and alluding to a romantic subplot that never materializes? Logic is thrown out the window here, kids. Thankfully, Dark paces the film really well. Yes, it is a dumb movie, there's no doubt about that, but it movies really quickly and there are enough silly, gory set pieces here to ensure that even if the film is goofy, it's never dull. Plenty of fast editing, music video style cuts and film speed plays, and a stereotypically grim atmosphere devoid of almost all color don't do the movie any favors (we've seen enough of this already!) but if you're okay with watching a big scary guy run around and kill annoying people then See No Evil will fit the bill nicely.
See No Evil hits DVD in a nice 1.78.1 anamorphic transfer that does a fine job of replicating the movie's gloomy colors and bleak sets. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or print damage though some mild edge enhancement and shimmering is present in some scenes. Detail looks good in both the foreground and the background of the picture and flesh tones look lifelike and natural throughout the movie.
Audio options are provided in a very aggressive English language Dolby Digital 51. Surround Sound track or a less intense English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track with optional subtitles available in English and Spanish and an English closed captioning option thrown in for good measure. The 5.1 track is the one to go for if you have the right equipment to make that happen as it uses the rear channels quite well to build atmosphere and add some punch to the more dramatic scenes in the film. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and the removable subs are easy to read.
Lion's Gate has done a pretty good job assembling some extra features for this release and while there's always room for more, these supplements do manage to cover quite a bit of ground starting with the two commentary tracks. The first talk is with director Gregory Dark (who, oddly enough, doesn't mention any of his previous work in the adult film industry) and writer Dan Madigan. Dark dwells on the technical details while Madigan tries to infuse some humor into the discussion and the end mix is a pretty uneven track. There is some good information here but there doesn't seem to be much chemistry between the two men. The second commentary track features Glen Jacobs (Kane) himself, joined by co-producer Jed Blaugrund and it's a little more interesting. Jacobs is pretty much completely himself here, not acting like his 'Kane' persona at all, and the two participants do a good job of explaining their respective roles in the production with Jacobs in particular telling some good stories about a few of the more involved scenes and effects work as well as how he feels about the movie and the character that he played in it.
Up next is a featurette entitled Do You See The Sin? which covers the making of the movie in a fair bit of detail with an emphasis on the special effects work. We get to see Dark and Kane in action doing their thing and we learn about Dark's motivations as a director here. There's some good footage in here that makes it worth a look and of course, the prospect of a sequel is brought up and touched on.
Wrestling fans will enjoy Behind The Evil: The WWE Promo Spots which is simply a collection of promotional spots for the movie that were worked into various WWE broadcasts to get some buzz out for the movie. There are some fun bits in here as well as some footage of Kane and a few of his co-workers at the movie's premiere.
Rounding out the extra features is a storyboard to film comparison, a teaser spot, a theatrical trailer for See No Evil, trailers for other Lion's Gate DVD releases, animated menus and chapter stops for the feature. Inside the keepcase is an insert with a chapter listing on one side and an advertisement for the Rowdy Roddy Piper – Born To Controversy collection on the other.
Despite some creative kill scenes and a fun performance from Kane, See No Evil fails to hit like it should because of a poor script and even worse character development. Dark's direction relies on too many flashy edits but is otherwise strong and the movie moves at a really quick pace but at best this is a brainless popcorn film – it'll entertain once but has little replay value. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.