See No Evil is one of Richard Fleischer’s lesser films, and having arrived in the middle of the last solid period of his career. That’s the time when he made films like 10 Rillington Place, The New Centurions and my favourite, the noir sci-fi Soylent Green. Fleischer was in the UK making 10 Rillington Place during the year that See No Evil came out, so I assume it was quickly rushed into production when Mia Farrow agreed to star, hot off the heels of Rosemary’s Baby.
It’s an interesting setup, with Mia Farrow playing a recently blind woman who returns to her British country home after a date with her boyfriend. Given her blindness, she is unaware that a sadistic killer has murdered the rest of her family and spends the night. The killer leaves a bracelet and then comes back to retrieve it, and soon she’s in a fight for her life.
Farrow’s performance is effective, and the film finds her at the height of her powers as an actress. Fleischer shoots the great majority of the film from her POV, which adds to the power of the performance. Farrow, despite being a massive star at the time, actually didn’t appear in that many great films. Her main highlights were Rosemary’s Baby and her later decade-long collaboration with her then-boyfriend Woody Allen, before that relationship came crashing down in spectacular fashion.
It does have a problematic aspect, with the local gypsies being painted as the villains of the piece. Luckily it’s not dwelled on too much, but it’s typical of the majority of American and British films that feature characters who are Roma.
The film’s cinematographer was Gerry Fisher, an old-timey Brit who worked his way up in the British industry. Fisher would go on to shoot some real cult favourite favourites, like The Offence, Wise Blood, The Ninth Configuration and The Exorcist III.
Overall it’s a well-shot film centred on a fine performance from Mia Farrow. Although it never quite comes together, it’s still a perfectly decent thriller. It’s not as fascinating as 10 Rillington Place, but it’s only 89 minutes so it’s hard for it to start to grate on the viewer. The features include the alternative British cut known as Blind Terror, an interview with actor Norman Eshley, a comparison between the cuts, and more.