See No Evil

on May 19, 2006 by John P. McCarthy
Evil is everywhere but impossible to literally turn a blind eye toward when both optical spheres have been plucked out of your head by a hulking maniac named Jacob Goodnight (World Wrestling Entertainment star Kane). Even if that's the reason, being unable to see what transpires in this movie is a good thing. At worst, it's a mixed blessing -- a drastic solution that audience members who find themselves unwilling to look can't rationally choose. Made in Australia, "See No Evil" is a conventional horror film. There's a glaring lack of plot, characterization, plausible dialogue and decent acting. Plus, it continues the genre's trend toward ever more stomach-churning violence at the expense of being scary.

Four years after a cop (Steven Vidler) had his arm chopped off by Jacob, he's working as a prison guard and escorts a group of young petty criminals (four per gender) on a work-release project at an abandoned hotel. Where else would the cretin be holed up? Obsessed with religious imagery, especially tattoos, Jacob is drawn toward sin and blasphemy. The foul-mouthed cons oblige before being dispatched one by one. Our fiendish momma's boy, who hears voices and has flashbacks to a childhood spent in a cage, isn't picky about his weapons. He uses an axe and a meat hook, yet favors his grimy index finger for gouging out eyeballs, which he then puts in jars. When you discover what drove Jacob to this psychotic state, you almost feel sorry for the oaf. If only he cleaned his fingernails.

The action is adorned with countless shots of rats and cockroaches scurrying around the dilapidated establishment feeding on eyeless corpses. Those pictures -- and the victims' infantile sex talk and inane banter -- are actually more gratuitous than the mayhem, which includes many impalings and instances of bone-crunching battery. The final image involving a dog and a dead body is an outrageously foul exclamation point. Religious zealotry coupled with mental illness can lead to many bad things, none worse than "See No Evil." The "hand of God," as Jacob is referred to, could use a thorough scrubbing and viewers will feel they need a bath as well. Starring Kane, Christina Vidal, Michael J. Pagan and Steven Vidler. Directed by Gregory Dark. Written by Dan Madigan. Produced by Joel Simon. A Lionsgate release. Horror. Rated R for strong gruesome violence and gore throughout, language, sexual content and some drug use. Running time: 84 min

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