A horror movie starring a professional wrestler and directed by a guy who used to make hard-core porn? Some audiences will consider that a warning and others a recommendation. The former have probably already stopped reading. The latter will be cheered to hear that ''See No Evil" could be worse.
Which is not to say it's good, or even remotely original. A dank, gory thriller about a handful of juvenile inmates picked off by a hulking killer while cleaning a boarded-up hotel, ''See No Evil" is generic teen dice-and-slice with interior design by way of ''Saw." The movie's tight and reasonably well shot, though, and there are flashes of nasty invention between the ritual guttings.
After a pro forma opening scene that establishes Jacob Goodnight (Glen Jacobs, better known to WWE fans as Kane) as an ax murderer extraordinaire with a penchant for plucking out the eyes of his victims, we flash forward to the desiccated Blackwell Hotel, where a busload of County Correctional detainees are being offloaded for a weekend work program. They're a coed group and the women are dressed scantily -- how convenient!
The police officer (Steven Vidler) overseeing the crew was a survivor of Jacob's previous rampage, but he's helpless to stop his charges from fanning out through the ruined building and indulging in drugs, sex, and other deranged-killer magnets. Miasmic lighting, secret passageways, and a tinny score that seems dropped in from one of director Gregory Dark's sex films add to the eldritch kitsch. At least the producers were able to pay for a fly wrangler and a lot of rubber eyeballs.
Who will live? Spoiled rich shoplifter Zoe (Rachael Taylor)? Computer hacker Richie (Craig Horner)? Psycho drug dealer Michael (Luke Pegler) or his regretful ex-girlfriend Kira (Samantha Noble)? Crunchy Melissa (Penny McNamee)? Abuse survivor Christine (Christina Vidal)? Other questions loom: Is there a motivation for Kira to take a shower other than contractual stipulation? And who lights all the candles in these movies?
''See No Evil" is proficient junk, which makes it something of an improvement over recent horrors like ''An American Haunting." Dark has been working on and off the fringes of the respectable film industry for years, and he knows how to keep one of these things moving; he also understands that horror movies need money shots, too, and he provides them with trash panache.
Kane's not much of an actor -- he's not even that scary with the lights turned on -- but he comes across like Andre the Giant's little brother, and darned if you don't feel sorry for the big lug by the end. So many annoying teenagers to kill, so little time.
Ty Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.