Saturday, 3 January 2015

see no evil 2

american mary is probably one of my favourite horror films in recent years so when i heard jen and sylvia soska were making see no evil 2 i was on board, even if i hadn't enjoyed the original all that much.

story is there's this serial killer dude, jacob goodnight, who was killed at the end of the first film but comes back to life to torment the staff on the night shift at the city morgue. who also happen to be having a party that night.

the thing is, i have a bit of love/hate relationship with slasher films. i love horror films and the slasher subgenre is very much part of that but considering how many slasher films there are it's surprising how few of them are actually any good. i think there's a misconception with slasher films that it's all about the gore and the murders, but that's never really appealed to me. if you take halloween, to me that's always been a film about suburban isolation rather than a film about a psycho killing people. the key scene is the part where jamie lee curtis knocks on the door of a neighbour and no one answers, because it says that for all our desire to be friendly and cordial to our neighbours really we all just want to hide ourselves away and let people deal with their own shit. the really good slasher films, the really good horror films even; they're about something. they're films about ideas and real life fears and stuff that's messed up about the world we live in. that's what makes american mary so great, it's a film about the human body and how it's seen by different people and how gender plays into that - it's amazing.

anyway, i'm rambling. the way i see it, when you make a genre film (not that i would know) you have two options - either you make the best possible version of a film in that genre, or you try to do something new with it. see no evil 2 mostly goes with the first option and does it really well, but there are some surprises in there too.

the first thing the film gets right that so many slashers get wrong is that the characters are likable. i'm so tired of watching a bunch of obnoxious teens talk about themselves and their stupid problems until they're killed off. here, all the characters come off as interesting with their own character arcs, so that when things kick off i really cared about what happened to them and wasn't just waiting for them to die. the relationship between danielle harris (horror royalty) and kaj-erik eriksen (very cute) is particularly well played. that's the other thing - the performances are great. no one is phoning it in. katharine isabelle (american mary herself) stands out as always, but considering she has a rather thankless role she manages to turn it into something interesting and has the most fun with it. the thing about liking the characters is that when they do things like staying behind in the spooky location to help each other out, i didn't think 'you fucking idiots, get out of there' i thought 'yes, you do need to go back for them!'. i believed it. what the helps this works is a slow build-up, so no one dies for like the first 25 minutes. this gives the audience time to get to know the characters and it really helps. the only film i've seen in recent years that pulled this off as well as this was the first cold prey movie (you should check it out if you haven't seen it).

once things do kick off the soska sisters really make the most of the location and their antagonist. there are lots of steadycam shots down long corridors, ,which really reminded me of similar shots in the suburbs of haddonfield. they manage to make the empty morgue seem suitably labyrinthine without losing a sense of geography.

there are interesting themes running through the film too. much is made of the fact that danielle harris's character ran away from being a doctor because it was too hard, and her journey in the film is not only about overcoming fear but also about deciding to stop running. there is an interesting parallel between this and the character of jacob goodnight, a man tortured by memories of an overbearing mother and someone who despite his immense physical strength lacks the emotional strength to challenge his past.

there is also big surprise at the end which i won't go into, but carol clover would be impressed.

i'm not sure this is up there with american mary for me, but it is a really well made film with a tight script (by two brits, nathan brookes and bobby lee darby) and stands out as one of the best in its genre so i really recommend checking it out.


  1. Great review! I need to give it a watch, but need to know, is it better than the first film?

  2. i definitely enjoyed it more than the first film, yes! thanks for reading!

    1. Great! And no problem, a brilliant review deserves credit!