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See No Evil 2
Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska, the twin directors who recently made a bit of a splash with their film American Mary, WWE Films' 2014 straight to video sequel to 2006's See No Evil takes place directly after the events in the first movie. The ‘God's Hand Killer,' Jacob Goodnight (wrestler Glenn ‘Kane' Jacobs) has slaughtered eight people in an old abandoned hotel before being taken out himself. Now his corpse and the bodies of his victims have been transported to the city morgue in the middle of the night, just as morgue attendant Amy (Danielle Harris) was about to clock out to go and celebrate her birthday. With the arrival of a fresh load of bodies, she decides to stick it out along with coworker Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) and their wheelchair bound supervisor Holden (Michael Eklund).
Amy's friends surprise her after she cancels on them by showing up at the morgue with some booze and party gear. On hand to celebrate are her brother Will (Greyston Holt), her best friend Kayla (Chelan Simmons), drunk girl Tamara (Katharine Isabelle) and her boyfriend Carter (Lee Majdoub). The festivities start off well enough but once Tamara finds out that Jacob's body is nearby, in her drunken state she decides to go check out the corpse of the famous murder machine, Carter in tow to make sure she doesn't get into too much trouble. They find the body and she messes around with it before deciding to screw her boyfriend right next to the corpse and as they're going at it they don't see him rise off of the slab until it's too late. Carter is the first to go and from there, Jacob, still haunted by his overbearing hyper-religious mother, singlehandedly works his way through the cast with a series of increasingly grisly murder set pieces.
Sure the cast members are all different save for Kane and the location has been shifted from an abandoned hotel to a city morgue but outside of that, See No Evil 2 pretty much recycles the story from the first movie: cast members wander off, Jacob Goodnight kills them, repeat a few times and then call it a night. That's not to say that the movie isn't entertaining enough if you're in an undemanding mood and appreciate gory slasher films as it does offer up a few pretty inventive kill scenes and leans towards practical effects over obvious CGI work (always a plus for a movie like this), but strikingly original this picture is not.
At ninety minutes the movie feels about twenty minutes too long but it is well shot. There's some nice lighting effects used to create some decent atmosphere and Kane cuts an imposing frame. His range is probably pretty limited but even so, his character demands a physical performance more than anything else and on this level, he's pretty good. If you saw him lumbering after you with a knife, you'd get out of the way as quickly as you could.
The cast all seem to be having a good time here, however. Danielle Harris is perfectly likeable as the female lead and she does a decent job here. The obvious attraction that exists between her and Seth adds a little bit of depth to her character and there's a scene where she gets into it with her overprotective brother that gives her a chance to show that, yes, she is a pretty solid actress. Katharine Isabelle, best known for Ginger Snaps isn't given as much to do, her character is basically a drunken floozy, but she plays it well enough and delivers a bit of comic relief here. Michael Eklund from Bates Motel is underused as the supervisor and Lee Majdoub is killed off first and therefore not given as much to do as everyone else. The other cast members are fairly forgettable. They serve their respective purposes but don't add up to much. Male lead Kaj-Erik Eriksen comes across as a nice guy, enough so that we want him more than the other guys in the movie to make it out alive, but again, not a whole lot of depth here.
See No Evil 2 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 (which makes sense given that this was shot digitally) though some mild 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. A little bit of crush does creep into some of the darkest scenes but otherwise you get the impression that this is how the movie should look.
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 included as well. 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.
Extras are pretty slim, limited to three short featurettes the first of which is an eleven minute piece called Twisted Twins (Soska Sisters) which is, as you could probably guess, a fairly brief examination of who the Soska Sisters are and what they brought to this project. Autopsy: Dissecting The Kills is a nine minute featurette that, as the title implies, takes a look at how some of the film's murder set pieces were put together. The third and final featurtte is the eight minute long Kane's Goodnight: An Icon Reborn and it's a quick look at the wrestling superstar's return to the role he made his own in the first See No Evil movie. Throughout the three featurettes we get some fun behind the scenes footage and interviews with pretty much all of the main cast and crew members. What stands out here is just how much fun everyone seems to be having on set.
Rounding out the extra are previews for a few other Lionsgate horror properties, menus and chapter selection.
See No Evil 2 basically takes the premise from the first film and recycles it, offering up plenty of admittedly inventive and intensely gory kill scenes and plenty of style but not a whole lot of depth. If you dug the first movie (and for the record this writer thought it was a fun time killer) then odds are pretty good you'll enjoy this one too. Not the most original horror picture to come along in the last few years by a long shot, but moderately amusing low brow entertainment. Lionsgate's DVD looks and sounds just fine and contains a few light weight extras. 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.