Written by J. Weagle
One night can cost you everything.
It’s safe to say that 2015 has been a very busy year for famed horror director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) as we get not one but two films from him this year. Knock Knock is not like his other films it feels smaller in scale and production. This time we aren’t following college kids to a remote or dangerous location. No, this time the terror comes knocking on the front door of a fancy suburban California home and it’s refreshing to see something different from Roth.
I think it’s nearly impossible for one to discuss an Eli Roth film without first letting others know which side of the fence you stand on when it comes to the filmography of the controversial director. I just so happen to be a fan and have been ever since his debut Cabin Fever. That’s not to say I think he’s a brilliant filmmaker, the struggles and faults of his talents are clear as day it’s how he is able to work around them that make him such an interesting director.
As mentioned before, Knock Knock is on a much smaller scale than his previous efforts (especially his other release of 2015, The Green Inferno). Where that film took us to the remote jungle of Peru, Knock Knock is solely shot in and around a Californian home. From the beginning this home is shown as a place of happiness, where we are introduced to Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) and his loving wife as they are greeted by their happy go lucky children with chocolate cake with sprinkles on Fathers Day. The house is made familiar to us right away, with pans through hallways exposing the artwork and family pictures that hang on the walls to further remind us just how happy this family is.
It’s not until later that night when Evan’s wife and kids go out of town leaving him to work alone on his architecture projects that the warm embrace of the house begins to turn sour. With a simple knock at the door we are introduced to the two deadly beauties Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas) who are both soaked from the downpour outside. Kind hearted Evan allows these ladies into his home as they try to find directions and await their ride, however there’s only one problem they don’t seem to want to leave. Constant flirting from the girls and some nudity lets Evan’s defences fall and it’s not long before he submits to his desires and embraces in a three way with the ladies.
It’s from here where the movie hits it’s stride and the funny games (pun intended) begins. Knock Knock manages to be an interesting take on the home invasion genre in that we have two gorgeous females as the psychotic killers obsessed with mind games. Both women do a really good job at exposing their crazy side as they tie him up, destroy the house and ultimately drag his life through the dirt. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the entire film is Keanu Reeves, whose acting at times was reminiscent of something along the lines of Nick Cage in The Wicker Man. I can’t help but feel as though he was the wrong choice for the role, though Reeves is likeable and his often times misguided doofiness does help give his character sympathy.
Those expecting another Roth gore fest will be disappointed, as the violence is toned down compared to his earlier films and for good reason. This isn’t a shock you with amazing special effects type of movie, the horror here is more of the twisted mind games nature which gave me a feeling of some early De Palma films of the 1980’s. It has humour though, like all of Roth’s previous work it’s dark and sometimes unneeded but it’s there even at moments when it shouldn’t be.
Knock Knock is not a bad movie, it’s not a great movie either. It is an improvement over The Green Inferno which felt as though the scope of the film got to big for him to handle. This is Roth doing what he does best, making a small movie on a small budget with an idea that will leave movie goers talking when it ends. It’s not without its faults and hiccups but overall Knock Knock is an enjoyable movie about people doing bad things. The ending will leave some frustrated and some in tears of laughter, so with that being said it’s without a doubt an Eli Roth movie.