Review: Knock Knock, when home invasion seduces

There’s no doubting that the tandem of horror maestro Eli Roth and Keanu Reeves is an intriguing one, especially when both of them are right in the middle of a resurgence in their careers. Roth, who hadn’t directed a feature film since 2007’s Hostel: Part II, seems to be attached to everything right now with two films releasing this year (The Green Inferno, Knock Knock) and the long-delayed shark epic Meg coming in 2017. And then there’s Keanu Reeves who delivered last year’s bullet-spraying badass John Wick, becoming an instant action icon (they’re filming the sequel this fall!). So it’s easy to see why the two of them teaming up for some psychological warfare in Knock Knock was a no-brainer.

Knock Knock is a psychologically-fueled home invasion thriller that feels a lot like a less effective Funny Games, just without the skin-crawling fourth wall breaking. But where Roth makes it interesting is that there’s a couple of evil-doing girls behind the dirty deeds. Unfortunately, that’s about as interesting as this one gets. In it, a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend when two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

What surprised me was just how long this one takes to really get rolling, and I think a lot of that had to do with Roth trying build suspense and tension before leading us right into the evil grip of two mysterious girls. The issue I had with that, however, is that it never hit either of those notes because we already know exactly where Knock Knock is headed. Usually that’s not such a bad thing, but one hour and a sweaty threesome later, the movie starts to feel like a chore.

Once all the groundwork (and Keanu Reeves) has been laid, the film finally starts to show signs of a pulse. The girls—Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas—are these wonderfully wicked characters who are just as good at seducing as they are at being evil and they quickly go to work on Reeves’ Evan as soon as he falls into their trap. One thing Roth has proven over the years is that he knows his way around the genre when it comes to making his characters suffer, which is why it’s baffling that the torture scenes are so tame and uninspired—Evan’s constant inability to escape a couple of girls half his size was… interesting.

And while the real horror of the film pales in comparison to Roth’s previous films, we are treated to a truly bat-shit crazy performance by Reeves. A.A. Dowd put it best in his review when he said that Reeves goes full Cage in this one, because he really does! It’s definitely one of his strangest and most weirdly entertaining performances to date, that’s for sure. Again, though, the film ultimately underwhelms in the one part it should have excelled at. I know that Roth was trying his hand at something different here, but he should have leaned on his strengths a little more. The big thing that was missing in Knock Knock was tension and the real, gruesome style of horror that he’s known for.

But there is certainly some good here—I particularly loved Izzo and Armas’ characters, and watching them mentally destroy Evan was pretty entertaining. They retain this mysteriousness throughout the entire film, which works because they give you just enough information behind their motive to piece together a backstory; the fact that we know so little about them also makes their characters that much more powerful.

I’m torn on this one, folks. It’s an interesting film from Roth who introduces some fun elements to the ever-popular home invasion genre, but it just never clicks and ultimately underwhelms where it should have found its stride and ran away with the premise of two gorgeously evil girls putting one unlucky soul through hell.

2/5

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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

17 thoughts on “Review: Knock Knock, when home invasion seduces

    1. Yeah you’re right about that! I was really excited to see what he would do by stepping a bit out of his comfort zone, but this one just doesn’t feel anything like an Eli Roth movie. Disappointing, that’s for sure.

  1. Damn, this is what I’ve read a couple of times, the fact it doesnt feel like an Eli Roth movie. For me, that might be something to add to the Plus column bc his style of horror isn’t really my bag. Haha! I’ve yet to summon the courage (or maybe it’s patience) for The Green Inferno. I just found a copy of it online and have it so I can watch it whenever but I find it so easy to put his stuff off. Maybe i’ll do the same with this one. .

    1. I’m looking forward to The Green Inferno, too. Yeah, I thought that after coming off of John Wick and Roth just finishing The Green Inferno we would have gotten something a little stronger. Oh well.

  2. I don’t know if I want to watch this one. I just loved Reeves in John Wick too much to watch him be subjected to this. BTW, how were you able to see this? This one is just about to hit theaters, isn’t it? I know you have a hard time watching new releases in your town.

    1. Yeah, and his next film is supposedly going to be MEG, the giant shark epic… which isn’t exactly an original thought. I am excited to see what he does with his first really big studio film, though.

  3. Meh, watched this over the weekend and I was really underwhelmed. I see what Roth was trying to do, and Reeves was highly entertaining, but I don’t know… this just didn’t come together like I was hoping to. Great review!

  4. You see, this right here is what makes you a compelling movie blogger. You outlined the good points, the weak points and gave the reader the best appraisal possible, all things considered. As a reader, I really appreciate that.

    1. Thanks so much, I really appreciate the kind words! It’s rare that a movie doesn’t have at least SOME good (or bad) in it, so I always try to keep that in the back of my mind when reviewing a film. Thanks!

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