I got my Blu-ray of See No Evil 2 early, but that means I can review it before it’s Screamfest premiere this week. I had never seen See No Evil 1, but I’m a big fan of Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of American Mary so I was excited to see them get a chance to take on a slasher franchise. See No Evil 2 is great and if you’re in L.A., you should definitely go see it at Screamfest on Wednesday, Oct 15. For the rest of you, VOD on the 17th is just fine, and by the 21st you may want to own the DVD or Blu-ray.
The victims of Jacob Goodnight (Kane)’s first rampage are brought to the morgue where Amy (Danielle Harris) is celebrating her birthday with mortician colleagues Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) and Holden (Michael Eklund). Since Amy cancels her birthday plans to help with the boatload of new corpses, her friends decide to surprise her at work. Too bad one of the corpses is Jacob Goodnight himself, and he ain’t dead yet!
First of all, even though I haven’t seen See No Evil, I love that this takes place immediately afterwards. That just gives a great sense of continuity, even though it’s eight years later. It also shows a sense of narrative responsibility by screenwriters Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby. Of course we all know that the killer is going to come back, but you don’t ignore the ending of the previous movie.
The standout character here is Tamara, played by horror icon Katharine Isabelle. Isabelle has been great as tormented heroines like Ginger in Ginger Snaps, and profoundly good as the tragic American Mary. I have woefully large gaps in my Katharine Isabelle filmography but I have never seen her play a character like Tamara. As slasher movie archetypes go, she is the promiscuous one, but Isabelle and the Soskas have great fun with that archetype. Isabelle is completely in charge of it and takes the opportunity to go wild with an outrageous performance. She is a morbid death groupie who makes inappropriate overtures towards the corpses and then freaks the hell out when Jacob wakes up.
Harris of course is a lovely heroine. She knows what she’s doing as she’s been doing this since she was a child. The film gives Amy and her friends, including her overprotective brother (Greyston Holt), enough character that we care about them but doesn’t pretend this is more than a slasher movie prototype. If you give these characters too much history then it just seems disingenuous, because we know you’re going to slaughter most of them. The writers, the Soskas and the actors all seem on the same page with just enough that we may hope some of them survive, but can still have fun if they don’t.
The kills are bloody as hell, and filmed beautifully. The Soskas know how to make blood spray look pretty, and tragic. Particularly since they are shooting in a dark hospital, they were able to hold the picture together in very low levels of lighting. The Blu-ray makes it perfectly evident that they can craft attractive lighting setups with barely a lit match, and some of those lighting setups are very clever. They keep Goodnight in the shadows, and Kane maximizes the impact of his presence in the glimpses we see of him.
I’m definitely going to go back and check out See No Evil now. This was great fun and I’m ready to see more Jacob Goodnight carnage. Given the special circumstances of this review, I’m going to come up with a new special rating for our rating system. Since Matinee/Dollar Theater/IMAX is kind of irrelevant, but I want to emphasize See No Evil 2 is worth much more than just a Redbox rental, I say see it at Screamfest this week!