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`See No Evil' has a problem with vision

The horror flick treads some very familiar territory as teens are set upon by a homicidal brute in an old hotel.

May 22, 2006|Robert Abele | Special to The Times

If gore-to-the-floor horror fans attuned to Lionsgate's aggressive attempts to corner the genre consider the hugely successful "Saw" movies and January's torture hit "Hostel" the equivalent of satisfying entrees, then the new "See No Evil" has to qualify as a flavorless snack, time filler until "Saw III" and "Hostel 2" are served up.

And no, same-title spotters, it's not a remake of the truly unnerving Mia Farrow chiller from 1971.

The only question of homage this hyper-directed dreck posits is whether it's now considered old-fashioned when a fright flick trots out the trapped-teens-in-peril construct, or simply lazy.

The comely victims here are a gaggle of detention-facility troublemakers -- who could have been plucked from a WB network casting book -- assigned to clean up a decrepit old hotel which, judging by the toilet-explosion color scheme of the walls, floors and tiles, would take them into middle age to complete.

Not to worry. In a movie under 90 minutes, they start getting picked off -- or out, since eyeballs are the trophy prize -- almost immediately by a grunting psycho the size of a wrestler. Specifically, the size of World Wrestling Entertainment star Kane, who plays the killer with a debut performance characterized mostly by dragging young actors with a hook, hurling them against walls, or staring confusedly to cue flashbacks that explain his tortured, abused-kid past.

Which I suppose brings up another question: Do we really want psychoanalysis from a splatter film? Not that director Gregory Dark -- whose behind-the-camera resume is sex and rock 'n' roll (adult films and music videos) -- cares more about that than turning the style knob to 11 with whiplash camera turns, shake effects, outlandish deaths and squirty sounds. But ultimately, I see no originality in "See No Evil."


'See No Evil'

MPAA rating: R for gruesome violence throughout the film, language, sexual content and some drug use.

A Lionsgate release. Director Gregory Dark. Screenplay Dan Madigan. Producer Joel Simon. Director of photography Ben Nott. Editor Scott Richter. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes.

In general release.

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