Throats are ripped, heads are crushed and limbs are severed with brutal efficiency throughout “See No Evil,” but that’s not nearly enough to dispel the sense of deja vu that pervades this generic slasher thriller. The World Wrestling Entertainment superstar known as Kane (real moniker: Glen Jacobs) is suitably humongous as a hulking psycho who decimates a group of over-age juvenile delinquents in a spectacularly decrepit hotel. Much like the pic itself, however, the grappler-turned-actor does little more than go through the motions. Even the most rabid gore hounds likely will wait for the DVD release.
Helmer Gregory Dark flaunts his music-video background with some modestly inventive visuals, particularly during the grisly prologue. Police officer Williams (Steven Vidler) loses his partner — and much of his right arm — while tangling with axe-wielding Jacob Goodnight (Kane) in the psycho’s suburban charnel house. Before he can be chopped to bits, Williams shoots his assailant in the head. Unfortunately, such gunplay rarely has lasting impact in a horror pic.
Flash forward four years: Williams is working with troubled teens (and, judging from the characters in his charge, troublesome twentysomethings) at a county detention center. With eight weekend-furloughed inmates along for the ride as a volunteer clean-up crew, he arrives at the once-glitzy, multi-storied Blackwell Hotel, a long-abandoned ruin slated for re-opening as a homeless shelter. Trouble is, the hotel already serves as a shelter for — yes, you guessed it! — Jacob Goodnight. And he’s not of a mind to be hospitable.
Jacob proves to be more grimly determined than genuinely terrifying as he wanders through the sprawling hallways in search of helpless (and, preferably, screaming) prey. Hooks, chains and axes are his weapons of choice — though, in a pinch, he’ll improvise with an elevator door, or his bare hands — and he usually caps off his carnage by plucking eyeballs from recently deceased (or not-quite-dead) victims.
To motivate the latter quirk, scripter Dan Madigan relies on flashbacks to childhood abuse and religious fanaticism. It’s pretty hokey stuff, to be sure. But in a pic this routine, it passes for novelty.
As Williams, Steve Vidler sounds distractingly raspy, as though he’s trying to indicate that the maimed cop really shouldn’t be spending so much time in a dusty, cobwebby building. (Interiors actually were shot at Australia’s Movie World Studios.) Kane has impressive screen presence, which is all his role requires, while the attractive young supporting players struggle mightily to flesh out their thinly written characters. Standouts include Samantha Noble as a sullen punkette with a fortuitous tattoo, and Penny McNamee as an animal rights activist whose exit scene is gravely ironic and undeniably funny.
Although much blood is spilled and splattered, precious little suspense is generated during “See No Evil.” To their credit, however, production designer Michael Rumpf and lenser Ben Nott somehow manage to make the pic look, if not feel, scary.