Knock Knock Review
Always maintain an air of caution when talking to strangers, even if they are beautiful and in need of help
What starts out as a pleasant Father’s Day soon turns out to be a nightmare for husband and father of two, Evan.Living with his family in a beautiful home which has been completely taken over by his wife’s art, Evan Webber is confined to a small corner of the house where he works as an architect. After his wife and children go away for a couple of nights Evan thinks he will be able to enjoy a quiet weekend working… oh how wrong he is. Director Eli Roth has taken inspiration from the 1977 exploitation film Death Game for the creation of his latest release. Having previously directed gore-fest films such as Cabin Fever and Hostel, Roth has decided to take a more psychological thriller aspect, with a bit of gore added for good measure.Eli Roth's previous film The Green Inferno has been sitting in distributor hell for the past two years, so aside from his work on the Netflix series Hemlock Grove, Knock Knock marks his first theatrical release since 2007's Hostel II. Roth directed and co-wrote Knock Knock along with Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás López, who all worked together on the aforementioned The Green Inferno, as well as Aftershock. Death Game director Peter Traynor lends his hand as executive producer along with original cast member Colleen Camp, who also produced Knock Knock and has a small cameo in it.
Deeply engrossed in his work with KISS playing at full blast, an unexpected knock at the door abruptly ends Evan’s (Keanu Reeves) peaceful night. Standing before him at the front door are two good looking girls drenched by the rain seeking directions to a party. Being the good natured man he is, Evan invites the girls in to dry and even calls them a cab using the Uber app. The girls Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas) are the perfect house guests, polite and respectful of Evan’s home, taking off their wet shoes without being asked. Due to the remote location of Evan’s home, there is a 45 minute wait for the cab, just enough time for Genesis and Bel to get to know their naive host. What starts off as a general chit chat soon turns to the subject of sex and Evan quickly realises these girls are unlike any other girls he’s ever met before.
Knock Knock takes the idea of the femme fatale and projects it to the next level. The two seemingly innocent girls use their sexual prowess for kicks at the expense of the unsuspecting male. The film also looks at the emasculated man who has fallen into his wife’s shadow and, despite being a good husband and father, seems to have sacrificed a piece of his former self in order to please those around him. Technology features heavily in Knock Knock, with the use of Face Time and Facebook. There is a slightly deeper message woven into Knock Knock, one that comments on the over sharing of information via social media and the horrific consequences that it can lead to — especially nowadays when it seems so prevalent.
Knock Knock tries its best to deliver something original but pales in comparison to other home invasion films.
Izzo and Armas are without doubt the main feature of the film, they totally embody the sadistic characters they play and both provide performances which resonate with the original characters from Death Game only they manage to take it a step further. Reeves’s performance as a father and man pushed to the limits just doesn’t sit quite right. In fact there are several moments which are laughable as Reeves just isn’t able to convey the emotional distress a man in his situation should be feeling. Unfortunately Reeves’s attempt at playing a new type of character falls flat on its face, and perhaps the casting of Evan should have been a bit more thorough.
Knock Knock works as a thriller and does keep you guessing at the lengths to which the girls will go to in order to prove their point. However there is little to no pay off at the end, with no explanation behind the point they are trying to prove, the film does falter off and loses sense of what it is trying to do. There are some good shots which flow nicely through Evan’s house but aside from those there isn’t really much else which stands out. Knock Knock follows very closely to it’s inspiration - Death Games - as it is almost an exact copy but unfortunately Roth chose not to employ some of the same sustained shots which added extra tension to the original.
My advice would be to avoid all trailers for Knock Knock as a majority of the plot is given away in these and does ultimately ruin the film as you will be expecting things to happen. Knock Knock is a good attempt at a dark psychological thriller but it fails to deliver in the same ways as films such as Funny Games, The Strangers or Them. It does take on a different angle from the aforementioned films but alas, doesn’t have the same impact.
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