It would seem that no director in the history of film has had a weirder trajectory than Gregory Dark.
Following a lengthy career directing porn in the 1980s and ’90s — his credits include “Black Throat,” “Hootermania” and the “Between the Cheeks” series — Dark moved on to music videos, including clips for Britney Spears and Mandy Moore.
And now he’s behind the camera for a mainstream feature film, the horror flick “See No Evil,” though to call it legitimate would be a bit of an overstatement. The actors keep their clothes on, but “See No Evil” is no less gratuitous and exploitative than his previous offerings.
(The movie’s press notes fail to mention his illustrious filmography; however, they do inform us that Dark has a master’s degree from Stanford and a graduate film degree from NYU. Both of which he’s putting to good use.)
“See No Evil,” which wasn’t screened for critics before opening day in keeping with the pervasive trend of 2006, is uncomfortably misogynistic even by horror-movie standards. Women invariably are referred to as sluts — and worse — and are tied up and tortured, gagged and kept in cages. They are dragged by their hair across the floor and tossed over the shoulder like rag dolls.
Oh yes, and some of them have their eyes plucked from their sockets and dropped into gooey, fluid-filled jars.
All this abuse comes at the hands of World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Kane — this being a WWE Films production — the beefy 7-footer whose character, Jacob Goodnight, is described as a “reclusive psychopath.”
Theoretically, that wouldn’t make him all that dangerous. But through the film’s contrived premise from first-time screenwriter Dan Madigan, a group of unsuspecting young people are thrust into his realm.
These small-time criminals, four women and four men, are sent on a community service project to clean up the long-dilapidated Blackwell Hotel, which Jacob calls home. Escorting them is the cop (Steven Vidler, doing a bad Clint Eastwood impression) who just happens to have shot Jacob in the head four years earlier.
As the prisoners insult and feebly flirt with each other, we’re left to wonder halfheartedly who will die first, and how, and who will survive. (In an unusual twist for the genre, the black character is not the primary victim.) Christina Vidal, Samantha Noble, Luke Pegler and Michael J. Pagan are among the actors you’ve never heard of playing the targets.
One by one, though, they do succumb to the sheer brute strength of this tormented giant, who still has issues from childhood and chooses to act them out with the help of a hook attached to a long chain. And of course he finishes the job with his preferred eye-gouging technique, hence the title.
Nothing about “See No Evil” is scary. With its run-down, abandoned setting, which is lousy with roaches, rats and flies, it’s just dark, dirty and gross. And the killings themselves, while gory, are also unintentionally hilarious.
As for the acting — and the action — it’s more believable in any given episode of “WWE Raw.”