These are exciting times for horror fans. There is so much talent out there, and with conventions and film festivals, these people are getting opportunities to show their projects while social media help us horror aficionados to connect with kindred spirits and learn about these great new feature-length movies and shorts. Ah, the joys of discovering there are a lot of us who like our movies scary, gory, mind-boggling and disturbing.
Thanks to Screamfest Horror Film Festival held at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, “See No Evil 2,” the latest directorial effort from Jen and Sylvia Soska, was given a big-screen presentation in the days before its release on VOD, iTunes and DVD/Blu Ray.
That “See No Evil 2” was not given a theatrical release was distressing to those of us who viewed the Soska twins’ “American Mary” and were eager to see their next venture. So, it was a treat having a screening in a nice big theater in front of viewers who love their horror good and bloody.
“See No Evil 2,” as the title reveals, is a sequel, and as such is bound by the restrictions of such follow-up films. It does not bring anything new to the table. With Glenn “Kane” Jacobs reprising his role as the vicious psychopath Jacob Goodnight, we know what is going to happen. Jacob is going to slaughter some people — just who and how are the mysteries.
The Soskas, whose jaw-dropping “American Mary” in 2012 served notice that these two ladies have enormous talent, received some financial muscle via WWE Studios when given the assignment of “See No Evil 2.” This movie should be considered as something of a warm-up, like a baseball player in the cage for batting practice — honing the skills. The Soskas were able to make “American Mary” look like a movie with major financial backing while working with a small budget. Now given expanded resources, they have put together a film in “See No Evil 2” that takes a predictable story line and molds it into a beautifully choreographed and photographed piece of horror mastery.
The script by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby picks the story up where the original “See No Evil” left off, in the aftermath of Jacob’s killing spree and his own supposed death. Jacob’s body, along with those of his victims, are deposited in the morgue while only three staffers are present — the minimal graveyard shift. The staffers include Amy (Danielle Harris), Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) and the wheel-chair bound Holden (Michael Eklund). It’s Amy’s birthday and although her shift is about to end, she volunteers to stay and help Seth deal with the incoming bodies, canceling post-work celebration plans.
Thus, some of Amy’s friends, and her brother, pay a surprise visit to the morgue for a late-night impromptu party. The arrivals are Tamara (Katharine Isabelle from “American Mary”), her boyfriend Carter (Lee Majdoub), Amy’s brother Will (Greyston Holt) and Kayla (Chelan Simmons), who has designs on Will.
The character development is effective in that while these people may be flawed, they also have good traits, and none deserve to die. Isabelle’s Tamara is the weirdest of the bunch, and her portrayal is a real departure from her turn as Mary Mason in “American Mary.” She is creepy but funny and her party-time proclivities lead to what is likely to be the most talked about scenes in “See No Evil 2,” some antics that are darkly humorous and have the viewer on edge in anticipation.
Jacob, with his right eye poked out, is first seen laying on a slab, seemingly cold meat. When he suddenly disappears from the slab, it’s party over. Time for terror.
The Soskas love horror movies, and this is evident in the atmosphere, tone and style of they set in “See No Evil 2.” They have taken the morgue, the venue for this kill-fest, and turned it into an unwitting accomplice to Jacob, with its deadly maze of corridors, locked doors, stairwells, elevators that are never available at the right time and windows too small to let in the bright, living world. And the Soskas, bless their hearts, opted for steadier camera work instead of the jerky motions of handhelds that can mar otherwise splendidly heart-pounding action sequences.
The Soskas dialed back a bit on the graphic gore, but that does not diminish Jacob’s ferocity. The horrifying killer almost seems at home in the morgue. He also knows his way around the facility better than the employees.
The cast, led by Harris as Amy, the most level-headed of the group amid the bloodbath, does a credible job of infusing life into the characters before they segue into the next stage of the movie, trying to avoid being killed. Jacobs is a formidable physical presence, a man whose massive silhouette against a lighted backdrop can induce chills in even the most hard core horror fan.
“See No Evil 2” is a solid effort, 90 minutes of what one expects from the crazed killer theme. It has a few surprises in it despite the standard blueprint. It’s a safe bet that upon future viewings, things will be spotted in the movie that were not noticed before.