The last time we saw serial killer Jacob Goodnight, in See No Evil (2006), he was as dead as his eight victims: he’d had a pipe stuck in his eye socket (a neat parallel to his own modus operandi, putting out the eyes of his victims), been pushed out of a window, fallen through a glass roof, his heart pierced by a broken rib. To add insult to injury, a dog urinated in his empty eye socket. Of course, you can’t keep a good serial killer down, and after eight years Goodnight is back, alive and killing, in See No Evil 2. Normally, this would be of little interest to anyone other than WWE wrestling fans (Goodnight is played by wrestler Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs), and direct-to-DVD horror sequel completists… but the fact that See No Evil 2 is directed by Jane and Sylvia Soska (American Mary, The ABCs of Death 2) makes it automatically worth a look – exactly, one assumes, what the producers had in mind when they hired them.
See No Evil 2 picks up so quickly after the end of the first film that Goodnight is on his way to the morgue, where a group of workers on the graveyard shift are about to throw a surprise party for birthday girl Amy (Danielle Harris, who has the distinction of playing one character in Halloween 4 and 5, and another in the Halloween remake and its sequel). One of the partygoers, Tamara (American Mary star Katharine Isabelle) has a thing for serial killers, and no sooner has she straddled Goodnight’s corpse than it’s ‘goodnight Tamara.’ By this point, we’ve barely seen the one-eyed multiple murderer, but at the thirty minute mark we get what we came for: some bone-crunching, chain-wielding, eye-gouging action, intercut with a few flashbacks – to Goodnight’s past crimes, his painful childhood, and to the first film – to up the gore factor.
At its heart, See No Evil 2 is as formulaic as they come: a group of attractive young people trapped in a building after hours, being chased around corridors by a sadistic psychopath. Where it deviates from the template is in Goodnight’s conflicted soul, and in the Soska sisters’ artful direction (slo-mo is used to good effect), which elevates a so-so script (by neophytes Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby) beyond direct-to-DVD norms. Mortuary instruments, designed to cut up cadavers, provide Goodnight with an inventive arsenal of weapons to slice and dice his way through his prey, while intelligent use of the location is complemented by Mahlon Todd Williams’ imaginative lighting and The Newton Brothers’ score.
See No Evil 2won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s competently made, has a few good kills, and does a decent job of reviving a moribund horror franchise. Fans of the Twisted Twins should see it more as a paying gig for their horror-loving heroines, rather than a fully-fledged follow-up to their breakthrough film, American Mary.
David Hughes (@DavidHughesTwit)