Movie Review: ‘Knock Knock’
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenzo Izzo, Ana de Armas
Plot: Family man Evan stays home overnight while his family goes to beach to recover from an injury and work. Two girls turn up at the door lost during a rainstorm looking to us his phone only to seduce Evan and wreck havoc upon his house.
Review: Eil Roth was considered a hot new horror director when he arrived on the scene with Cabin Fever for reasons that weren’t clear to me at the time it came out. He managed to stay ahead of the trend with Hostel, one of the more notable if ultimately pointless entries in the short-lived ‘torture porn’ trend. As a director his output has been slow with only the lacklustre The Green Inferno being released since Hostel Part II came out eight years ago. Now we have Knock Knock, which is going to generate more unintentional laughter than scares.
Knock Knock taps into the popular ‘home invasion’ sub-genre that’s been doing well lately, but hits a stumbling block early with an atrocious script. Both the set up and the dialogue is bad. Plot twists are telegraphed miles in advance, such as a guy coming around at the start of the film to announce that he would be stopping by later to pick up an art piece. It’s explained near the end of the movie that the neighbours didn’t hear him screaming for help because, by some insane coincidence, they’d all gone out for the entire night. Ridiculous moments like this are frequent.
Some good dialogue may have helped but lines like “Why? Because you fucked me? That’s fuck fuck fuck fuckity insane!” bellowed by Reeves does the film no favours. The psychotic girls mostly just gibber nonsense with the occasional allusion to sexual abuse while Reeves yells “fucking bitches” over and over again. There’s something distasteful about child sex abuse being plonked into the middle of the movie as a ‘reason’ for these characters to be insane only to be thrown aside just as quickly.
In terms of tone the plot is a mess. The girls are convincing as dangerous seductresses, maintaining an air of mystery while selling their malicious intentions. A minute of two after Reeves succumbs to their whiles they’ve completely flipped and turned into different characters, throwing food around and eating out of dog food bowls. The movie tries to sell us on them being crazy and unpredictable but for the most part they come off as annoying with almost no tension to the plot. Occasion comments are made regarding infidelity, paedophilia and although societal fears but they never get fleshed out enough to matter.
This being essentially a three person performance you really next the cast to bring enough effort and talent to carry the whole film. Reeves has proven to be a good actor from time to time but he’s sleep walking through this. De Armas is the better of the two girls, mixing a childlike naivety with her insanity, but most of the dialogue gets handed over the Roth’s young wife Izzo and she just does not have the presence or talent to make it work.
From a film-making stand point the movie is amateurish. Pointless and jerky tracking shots punctuate a reliance on close-ups for every scene. The low point comes with two cringe-inducing montages. One tries to show the passage of time by making every second shot a close up of a clock and, even worse, the supposedly raunchy sex scene being punctuated with family photos again and again and again.
Just when things seem they can’t be any more ridiculous they go for an ending that suggest a public shaming of Evan for his actions, but leaving him and the house in a state that can only read as an assault. There is no way anyone is going to disbelieve his story that he was being forced to act against his will. These are either the most stupid serial offenders in cinema or just dumb script-writers.
This isn’t going to jangle your nerves this Halloween. It’s best viewed for comedy value.
Rating: TWO out of TEN