Sunday, November 8, 2015

Film Review: Knock Knock (2015)

Copyright: Lionsgate Premiere
It’s not good to be bad, and being bad might end with you being killed, is what Knock Knock movie is trying to tell us. Temptation can be interesting and fun, and it can even dance around in your living room in a shower robe, but at the very end of temptation, something horrible and sharp might lurk in the dark.

Essentially, this is all well and nice, but the cog in the mechanism of this revenge horror film is its main actor – Keanu Reeves. This man has plenty of, shall we say, unorthodox talent and a strong screen presence, but here, the actor transforms into a devastating miscast right during the opening scenes.

Let’s take the first few moments of the film. Here, we see Reeves’ character, a man by the name of Evan Webber, being woken up by his loving wife and family. Webber is an architect in his 40’s and he has a gorgeous spouse and kids straight from a cereal commercial. At this point in time, all is splendid in the Webber household, but still Reeves acts as an alien who suddenly appeared in a human body. This alien studied human culture for a long time and prepared for this situation in simulators, but through an error, he arrived there way ahead of schedule.

Now, the same alien is trying to improvise human emotion and mostly ends up looking weird or as overacting close to the Nick Cage potential. As the family leaves, the strangeness of Evan Webber kind of dies down a bit, but not completely. When Evan’s beautiful future tormentors arrive, the film makes it hard to root for anyone and it also seems pointless to wait for any particular moment, apart from seeing if the ending would be an outright win for either side or with some kind of a poetic tie match. Each of these scenarios was completely fine by me and no option bothered me in any way.

I get that Eli Roth is a smart movie guy in every sense of the word. He produced several very effective horrors by being innovative, on budget and a bit edgy, but not too much. Now, as a director, he does show off his cinematic talent and Knock Knock movie has frames that are pleasant to look at, especially when it comes to the way Roth uses the exquisitely decorated Webber home. On the other hand, he obviously couldn’t find a solution to the Reeves rampant emotional emptiness he infuses into his character. Even worse, maybe this wasn’t even a problem in Roth’s eyes. Ironically, in the last moments of the film, there is something like a mini-catharsis when spit starts to fly from the mouth of a desperate Evan, but it comes too late to make any difference.

I understand that Knock Knock movie was designed as something similar to an inverted revenge fantasy, but the thing that it brought to the table are a bit of nudity and a distant, weird Reeves. There were plenty of places where the film could have introduced some lame twist, for example, like the one that Haunter pulled off (minus the supernatural element) but Roth didn’t even make an effort to do that. Sloppiness, lack of direction and miscasting all made Knock Knock movie a below-average revenge thriller.