See No Evil 2 review (DVD)

WWE Studios, in its ongoing deal with Lionsgate, has been churning out horror films for a few years now - with 90 per cent of them featuring one or more of their wrestling superstars in the lead. Now we are seeing WWE trying to expand its repertoire. Last year’s No One Lives had a Hollywood actor, Luke Evans, in the lead role. With See No Evil 2, WWE hired the horror directing duo of the Twisted Twins, aka the Soska Sisters, to bring a bit more exposure (and class) to its films.

Still in the lead role of Jacob Goodnight is the wrestler Kane, now going by his real name of Glenn Jacobs. He might not be a horror icon yet, but Goodnight is a mighty beast of man and one who could easily rip people apart with his bare hands – and that’s exactly what happens here. A group of friends throw a surprise birthday party in the city morgue. What they don’t count on is the one-eyed man rising from a slab in the basement.

You may have seen the first See No Evil film from 2006, but it's not essential before you give part two a whirl. The first film was typical horror drudgery and felt like a straight-to-DVD affair. Not so with See No Evil 2 though – it’s tighter and a lot more effective. This is down to the Soskas knowing their way around low-budget horror and crafting a film that defies its restrictions. Less gore is more here and the movie actually dials back the bloodletting in favour of characterisation. There is hook, chains and saw kills though, and while not inventive, they have a certain charm to the execution of them.

So less gore in a horror movie could prove pointless. But it’s all the better for it as we finally get to see more back-story to Goodnight and understand the demons that are driving him to commit these crimes. There is the human element to the psycho coming through here, which is normally pushed to one side by the time a horror sequel is greenlit. The Soskas have brought in friend and American Mary star Isabelle alongside new scream queen Harris, and the writing by Brookes and Darby is very strong for both women. They are at first guided by the men but soon find their own way around - in fact, quickly becoming the alpha males of the group. Harris gets to enjoy more running and screaming, while Isabelle hams it up for vast periods as the jokey drunk – polar opposite roles that come together nicely.

See No Evil 2 is rare breed of horror sequel – one that is actually better than the original. WWE Studios pulled a coup in hiring the Twisted Twins to direct and it’s paid off for all ivolved. Sharp dialogue, deeper characterisations and more calculated kills make this a slasher sequel worth seeing.

EXTRAS ★★ Just three behind-the-scenes featurettes – Twisted twins (10:42), Autopsy: Dissecting the Kills (8:41), and Kane's Goodnight: An Icon Reborn (7:36).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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