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Knock Knock

D: Eli Roth / 100m

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp

Architect and committed family man Evan Webber (Reeves) is forced to stay home for the weekend due to work commitments, while his artist wife, Karen (Allamand), and their two children go to the beach. On the first night he’s hard at work when he hears a knock at the front door. Not expecting anyone, he’s surprised to find two young women – Bel (de Armas) and Genesis (Izzo) – trying to find the location of a party they’re going to, and who are soaked through thanks to the rain. He lets them in to wait for another taxi, and gives them robes to wear while their clothes are put in the drier. He’s hospitable and friendly, but as the two women begin to flirt with him, Evan becomes uncomfortable. When the taxi finally arrives and he tries to give the girls back their clothes, he finds them in the bathroom, naked, and wanting very much to have sex with him.

Evan succumbs to their advances and they end up having a threesome. The next morning, he wakes to find Genesis and Bel have no intention of leaving. When they vandalise one of his wife’s sculptures, he threatens to call the police, but they call his bluff by saying they’d have an interesting story to tell the police, what with their being underage. Evan is shocked, and backs down, and the young women continue to disregard his pleas not to interfere or damage anything. Eventually he gets so mad he starts to call the police to report a break-in, and the women agree to leave. He drops them off where they’re supposed to live, and back home, cleans up all the mess they’ve created. Later that night, Evan is working again when he hears a noise. He goes to investigate and is knocked unconscious by Genesis. When he comes to he finds himself tied to the bed, and that both Genesis and Bel are determined to make him suffer for his actions of the night before.

Knock Knock - scene

“Knock knock.

Who’s there?

A pretty awful movie by Eli Roth.

Sorry, we’re out.”

A remake of Death Game (1977), which starred one of this movie’s producers, Sondra Locke, and cast member Colleen Camp, Knock Knock has all the tension and edge-of-your-seat suspense of an episode of The Simpsons. It’s stupid, ridiculous, annoying, derivative, farcical, erratic, ludicrous, woeful, preposterous, idiotic, and just plain dumb. It’s a psychological thriller that forgets all about the “logical” and plumps for the “psycho” side of things with a passion that will leave most viewers shaking their heads in disbelief. This is a home invasion movie where you can’t feel sympathy for Reeves’ character, or the barmy antics of Genesis and Bel, or even the unlucky Louis (Burns), Karen’s assistant, who proves that an asthmatic can still play piggy-in-the-middle long after they should have collapsed fighting for their breath.

The script, co-written by Roth, Nicolás López and Guillermo Amoedo, is a lumpen mess that judders from one unconvincing scene to another, and resolutely avoids giving Evan the chance to gain the upper hand, keeping him the shouting, sweating victim throughout, while making Bel and Genesis the equivalent of avenging angels (though why they do what they do is obscured by their commitment to behaving like five year olds on a sugar high). Reeves is also lumbered with some of the most awful dialogue written in recent years, and it shows up his deficiencies as an actor (it doesn’t help that for most of the movie’s second half, and one rant aside, his general reaction to what’s happening to him is to repeat the F-word). And Roth, whose caché as a director is becoming increasingly devalued, directs each scene as if it’s completely independent of the ones before and after it, and shows no interest in making it exciting or dramatic for the viewer.

Rating: 3/10 – a wince-inducing thriller that remains a huge waste of time, and confirms Evan’s question part way through of “What’s the point?” with every subsequent scene; more knock-off than remake, Knock Knock plays around with a decent clutch of ideas but ultimately hasn’t got a clue what to do with any of them.