Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Knock Knock Review

Knock Knock Review
I have never really been blown away by any of Eli Roth's movies. I have always enjoyed his enthusiasm for the horror genre, but his actual movies themselves have never really reinvented the wheel nor have they scared me. "Hostel" wasn't anything special, neither was "Cabin Fever." The movies I have enjoyed which featured his involvement were "The Sacrament," "Aftershock" and "The Last Exorcism." But he didn't direct those films, he only produced them. As a director, I have always come to expect more.

I have never gone to the door for anybody growing up. I remember when I was a early teenager and my parents were beginning to trust me by myself at home, little by little. I never forgot when I was home alone for the summer or a day off of school or what have you, the last thing my dad always said to me was "never answer the door for anyone." To this day, even at 26-years-old, I never answer the door for anyone. If I know someone is coming, that's a completely different story, but an unplanned visit is not my forte, and for the safety of myself and those I love, I steer clear from my door, especially if I am alone.

I don't know if anybody reading answers the door when someone comes knocking, but if you do, you won't anymore after viewing "Knock Knock." This is a psychological horror movie with a humorous edge. It probably won't keep up all night, and it won't boo you to death. Its also a movie with little to no gore. I can already see the different temperaments of horror wondering why I am even recommending this in the first place, but bear with me. "Knock Knock" is an effective little film. A film that dissects secrets and temptation and what ifs in a horrifying way. While there is a comedic edge to the movie, there is a dark side to it all that I found profoundly unsettling.

Keanu Reeves plays Evan, an architect and a family man. Its clear from the opening titles that he loves his wife and he loves his children very much. His family is going away for the weekend, and Evan would go to if only he didn't have so much architectural work to do. He stays home to finish a big project over the long holiday weekend. There are some jokes made by friends about having a party while the family is away, but Reeves paints his character as such an innocent, loving father that its hard to imagine.

He's working hard at night when the suddenly there is a knock on his door. When he opens it, he sees two girls (Ana De Armas & Lorenza Izzo) standing there. Its pouring down rain, and they are trying to get to a party but they got lost. They ask to come in to see if Evan can assist them and he agrees. He orders them an Uber driver when the girls realize their destination is an entire different neighborhood. So while waiting for the driver, the girls ask Evan about his job, his family, life in general. The conversation seems normal at first, but then the girls begin to ask more personal, more sensual questions and it makes Evan quite uncomfortable. There is something off with the girls as soon as Evan opens the door, that much can be seen by the audience, your just not sure if they are going drug Evan, hurt Evan or something of the sort. It turns out they expose Evan to his inner id, and they do with a gleeful evil that's it begins to unsettle the audience.

What makes "Knock Knock" so horrifying is how evil the girls are. Ana De Armas and Lorenza Izzo are two actresses I have never heard of, but my goodness are  they vile in this. Not only that, but they relish in each vile bit of nastiness Roth asks them to do. Evan soon finds himself in an uncontrollable nightmare, and De Armas and Izzo make it personal and horrifying. Yes, their plot seems a bit telegraphed, but the acting between the girls make it matter.

I have never thought Keanu Reeves is the best actor, and that doesn't change here. There are moments where he overacts a little bit. I don't know if he's responsible or if the script writing is responsible, but some of his pleas and demands fall flat. There is a moment when he tells the girls off that just made me crack up in tears laughing, unable to believe that the same guy played Neo. His performance doesn't derail the movie, but it certainly takes you out of the experience in some of the moments. But the work done by the girls is so good that you forget just how bad Reeves is in some of the movie's moments.

I think with "Knock Knock" Roth is getting stronger as a horror director. This is a step up from anything he has directed before. I hope this is a sign of light in the horizon, because his heart is in the right place. I hope he turns into the fright master he so wants to be and this could be the watermark that led him to greatness. Still, there are some setbacks in "Knock Knock" but its an overall fun ride.

The last line of dialogue is so good that you won't know whether to be terrified, whether to feel bad for the characters or to laugh out loud. The confusion made my jaw drop. Check it out, it may surprise you.

FINAL GRADE: B

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