See No Evil 2 (2014)
90 min., rated R.
The biggest surprise is that "See No Evil 2," a sequel nobody really asked for to 2006's grisly, grimy WWE Studios- and Lionsgate-produced slasher item "See No Evil" that gave Glenn Jacobs/Kane an "acting" career, actually exists. It's less surprising that it's better than the first and still not that good to wholly recommend. Not every film needs to set lofty goals for itself. Sometimes, one that just accomplishes what it sets out to do is enough. "See No Evil 2" surely does what it sets out to do as a straight-up stalk-and-slash affair within a horror sub-genre not exactly famous for inspired plotting and fully written characters. This is a passable Friday night, but it would be nice to care more.
Ignoring the fact that its predecessor was made eight years ago, "See No Evil 2"—like most horror sequels ("Halloween II," "Friday the 13th Part 2," "Friday the 13th Part 3," "Hatchet II" and "Hatchet III")—continues the same night of the original film's murders and feels the need to keep recapping them in quick flashbacks. After the hulking Jacob Goodnight (Kane) took out a batch of teenage-to-twentysomething juvenile delinquents in the grossly dilapidated Blackwell Hotel, he was allegedly dispatched himself. The night of her birthday, Amy (Danielle Harris) is gearing up to celebrate after leaving the morgue, where she works with lovesick Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) and ball-busting, wheelchair-bound co-worker Holden (Michael Eklund). Once the victims' corpses, including Jacob Goodnight, come rolling into the morgue, Amy decides to help out and give her friends a rain check. Instead, her group of pals, including wild Tamara (Katharine Isabelle) and boyfriend Carter (Lee Majdoub), flirty Kayla (Chelan Simmons), and Amy's overprotective big brother Will (Greyston Holt), decide to surprise the birthday girl. Little do they know that Jacob Goodnight is still alive and not quite done with his murderous rampage, fueled by visions of his late evangelical mother, and a morgue just happens to have plenty of sharp implements to choose from.
The 2006 movie was gratuitously nasty, yet unscary, junk with a predilection for eyeball-plucking, all under the direction of a former porn director, but at least it delivered the goods to those who craved gore and nothing more. Twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska (2013's "American Mary") bring their trademark twisted kinkiness to this for-hire project, working from a screenplay by first-time writing partners Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby, and their film is more proficiently made than the first with better attention to cinematography and lighting. As filmmakers, the Soskas do break the slasher-pic mold somewhat with their "final girl," but the bread-and-butter kills aren't all that creative or even stylishly executed in most cases, just blunt and senseless since we barely care about the characters, Amy and Seth besides. One of the cheekier gags comes during the opening credits, as the directors pose dead as a couple of twin corpses on separate slabs.
Par for the course of the genre, performances are adequate. The very cute Danielle Harris comes out on top, fully committing and proving to always be a fighter with charisma and resolve as the "final girl" in her genre of choice. As Amy, she plays her as written, a young woman who's happy with her life but has disappointed her family by dropping out of med school to work in a morgue. The Soskas' favorite, Katharine Isabelle (Mary of "American Mary"), is always fun to watch, even as the hedonistic Tamara straddles Goodnight on a slab because she has a fetish for serial killers and then has sex next to his body. This contradictory character adds the most self-aware amusement, running, screaming and trying to open doors but then commenting on what is a "terrible hiding spot." Then, as Jacob Goodnight, Kane is still a physically imposing presence as Jacob Goodnight, a truly unstoppable boogeyman. But, all in all, watching attractive young people get systematically knocked off in a morgue by a pro-wrestler should be more fun than what "See No Evil 2" is willing to offer.