Friday, April 19, 2013

See No Evil (1971)

For the most part, actress Mia Farrow avoided the thriller genre after starring in Rosemary’s Baby (1968), perhaps because she knew no subsequent shocker was likely to reach the heights of that Roman Polanski-directed classic. And sure enough, when one examines the two outright horror flicks Farrow made during the ’70s, Rosemary’s Baby only grows in stature by comparison. The latter of the two pictures, The Haunting of Julia (1977), is an atmospheric but tedious psychodrama about a woman tormented by the experience of losing a child. The earlier of the two pictures, See No Evil, is a trite riff on Wait Until Dark, the 1966 play and 1967 movie about a blind woman terrorized by a murderous assailant. Yet while Wait Until Dark has a solid story and thrilling jolts, See No Evil spends 89 repetitive minutes mindlessly exploiting the gimmick of a victim unable to sense nearby danger. And because Farrow’s performance is mediocre—her melodramatic gestures and over-the-top whimpering exacerbate the shortcomings of an underwritten role—the only strength of the picture is the imaginative cinematography by ace British DP Gerry Fisher. Fisher’s camera rides along the floors of spaces to spotlight objects lying in Farrow’s path, and peers around corners to peek at things Farrow can merely detect by sound; these flourishes lend a small measure of dynamism. As for the story, Farrow plays Sarah, a young woman living in the English countryside with her aunt and uncle. Sarah recently lost her sight in a horse-riding accident, so while she seems psychologically adjusted to her change of life, she’s still physically awkward. Therefore, when a killer slaughters Sarah’s relatives while she’s away, it takes our heroine a while to notice the bodies. And then, of course, the killer returns to reclaim a bracelet he lost during his crime spree—cue scenes of Sarah trying to escape the house undetected, et cetera. See No Evil takes forever to get started, and the plot is painfully predictable. Nonetheless, Fisher (and director Richard Fleischer) pump as much life as they can into silly scenes of Farrow cowering and fleeing and lurking—although it should be noted, with the proper degree of scorn, that the storyline relies on ugly stereotypes of gypsies as roving bands of criminals.

See No Evil: FUNKY

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

I tried and tried to get through this one but to no avail - how much could I take of Mia stumbling through the house?

HAUNTING OF JULIA is somewhat better, more effective, although it's plagued by the same opaqueness as the original Peter Straub novel.