Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Ignacia Allamand
Plot: A happily married man (Reeves) is working home alone, when two beautiful girls knock on his door, asking for shelter from the rain.
Thanks Eli Roth. Now I am afraid of wom… now I am even more afraid of women.
Knock Knock is the kind of movie that can be difficult to pull off. Very few of these small space thrillers become the thrilling psychological powerhouse they aim to be. Most of the time, they are a waste of talent, mind-numbing drivel as a writer desperately tries to stretch out the running time, despite having only a few pages of plot. Even when one of them surprises you and works out very well, they only ever seem to hit the middle of the pack. A decent enough thriller that fills out an evening well enough, but often fades from the memory as soon as the year’s bigger blockbusters slide into play. Eli Roth’s Knock Knock is neither of those films. This movie is a clever, witty and, more often than you would expect, downright creepy. I have never really given the director a fair chance. His filmography consists of gore fests, where scares are replaced with a vomit-inducing bone snapping and every character is bound to get their insides on display at some point in the movie’s climax. Those kind of films don’t interest me. However with Knock Knock, Eli Roth shows he is capable of more. It is a slow-burning horror, the chills settling in before anything has even happened. Cynics will call Knock Knock yet another middling home invasion movie, but this is a far more intelligent film. Eli Roth explains little and sprinkles smaller twists over the proceedings. Visually, it is such a clever piece of film-making. It is the smaller shocks that remain with you, little things we didn’t even realise we picked up on. In truth, these additions are all very simple, yet they are the glue that makes this film stick with you. Then there is the case of the villains of the plot. It isn’t until the final few frames where you really understand why these girls are doing what they do, but throughout the entire movie, you are drip-feed several different theories. Eli Roth has fun playing with each idea and the actresses in question have just as much fun. Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas are fantastic, seductively dangerous and twistedly evil. When their true motives are revealed, you will be shaking your head and chuckling at the malice. Ana de Armas in particular relishes embracing the crazy.
There is also the case of the moral debate that Eli Roth teases you with. Keanu Reeves opens the movie as the perfect father and husband. Reeves relishes the chance of stripping away the Neo or John Wick persona and just playing that decent, everyday guy. He is loveable in a heartbeat, someone you cannot help but like. When he has to stay home alone and these two girls knock on his door, you cannot help but pity a man in a situation he is trapped in. It is hard to see what you would do differently. Evan invites these women into his home out a sense of politeness and this politeness is used against him in a horrible fashion. At first, Eli Roth plays the situation for laughs and it is quite an amusing few scenes. These girls desperately throw themselves at Evan and he awkwardly turns them down at every angle. It is funny watching Evan try every trick in the book to change the subject and for the girls to somehow twist the situation back to sex. “Underwear models are the kind of men you fuck when you are 14,” Lorenza Izzo explains with the quote of the movie. Then the dread creeps in. Yes, Evan does make a foolish mistake, although only the cynical will blame him for caving into the girls’ demands. In fact, once again, you feel sorry for this poor man caught in a trap you cannot escape. The movie then proceeds to paint Evan as the villain, accusing him of being a fraud when we first saw him as that perfect husband at the start of the movie. Therefore, while the horror unfolds, the director has us questioning the morality of the situation. Is Evan a bad person? Would we do the same?
Final Verdict: Eli Roth excels at this psychological thriller, getting the most of his cast and direction. A chilling home invasion movie.