Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Mia can "See No Evil" -- But You Can
Cleveland Press October 8, 1971
The perils suffered by the legendary Pauline are as nothing compared to the harrowing experiences Mia Farrow undergoes in "See No Evil."
The picture is a nice little chiller. It's a formula movie and while it is easy enough to put down formula films there's nothing quite like them when they work.
"See No Evil" works.
This is the familiar gimmick of blind girl menaced by psychopathic killer. Miss Farrow is the girl, recently released from the hospital. Blindness came about from an accident while horseback riding.
Now she is temporarily staying with a wealthy aunt, uncle and cousin in their pleasant home in the English countryside; bravely making her way about, seeking no help.
She even tries riding again at the insistence of her boyfriend (Norman Eshley) who runs a horse farm nearby. He drops her off at the door since she insists she can manage and the family is out anyway. The next morning he greets her, comments on the quiet and she says they must all be sleeping.
They're all dead. The corpse of her cousin is on the other bed in the same room. Her uncle is in the bathtub and auntie is propped in a chair downstairs.
It must have been the open windows and the fresh breezes that kept her from noticing. The breeze also causes doors to slam, a nice thing to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Discovery comes when she tries to take a bath. From there on it's one long dash as she hysterically rushes from room to room.
Meanwhile there's that killer stalking about because he has left a bit of incriminating evidence behind.
The presence of the mysterious killer is indicated right from the beginning, but about all we ever see are his boots. Much of the picture is filmed from boot level. His boots are fancy, with a star on the front.
A lot of other boots are shown, with trousers covering where the star might be -- if it were there. This movie has no shortage of red herrings.
It also is not short of improbabilities, a fact you tend to ignore while watching. Motivation also is lacking, something that nags at you only after it is all over.
Richard Fleischer, a director of indifferent talent (his most recent film was "The Last Ride"), proves himself to be good given the material. If the story is derivative of "A Shot in the Dark," then his direction is derivative of Hitchcock and he manages well.
Mia Farrow has seldom looked more helpless, the total waif, completely vulnerable. The script really tends to pile on the troubles however.
After stumbling into corpses she falls down the cellar stairs, runs barefoot over a floor covered with broken glass, is knocked off her horse as she tries to escape, is locked in a shanty and has to claw her way out through a hole in the wall, slips and slides in the mud and rolls down an embankment. And that's not all.
"See No Evil" is designed to hold your attention and make you jump now and then, and it's designed right.