The movies of Eli Roth. Knock Knock (2015) – movie review

If you’re curious to see Keanu Reeves engage in a threesome with two young, very attractive girls, then Knock Knock is the movie for you!

I had to open this little review with a joke, since I’m quite nostalgic already for the end of my series about the films of Eli Roth. There’s another aspect that affects my mood while writing this post, which is the fact that this is the worst movie by the Bostonian filmmaker and I really wish I could end this series of reviews with a better one…

Knock Knock 1As per usual with Eli movies, the plot is rather simple and straightforward: Evan (Keanu “terribly miscast” Reeves) is a devoted family man, whose wife and children go away for the weekend, and is visited by two strangers. Two very hot and blatantly oversexualised girls knocked on his door (what did you expect?) in the middle of the night and convince Evan to let them in. From this point on, Genisis and Bell start playing sadistic games with Keanu’s character, a situation that quickly escalates to rape and torture.

This is a premise that, to me, is pure gold for one reason: you have two potentially great paths to follow in order to make your film awesome. On one hand, Eli might have chosen to turn around tropes and formulas typical of ‘rape and revenge’ flicks, by showing how also men can be raped and by seriously delving into the psychology of male victims of sexual assault. Alternatively, the filmmakers should’ve gone for the safe route represented by a modernised version of an exploitation flick, which is something Eli is also quite keen on.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 


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Knock Knock feature

Instead, Knock Knock is a hybrid that doesn’t really have anything interesting going on. To put it like Keanu Reeves’ character said in the movie, “What’s the point of this”? In fact, the first 30 minutes of this film rely on an erotic horror vibe, then the movie turns into home invasion and finally it becomes something along the line of a dark thriller/drama. This combination of genres was present in Cabin Fever as well, but there it worked better and it could also be forgiven since that movie was Eli’s directorial debut.

 

Now, 4 films and 12 years after, the overall amateur approach should’ve been dropped for a more mature filmmaking. The same goes for the dialogue, since Knock Knock features some of the laziest and dumbest one-liners I’ve heard in a big-budget, mainstream horror movie. Here’s an example for you:

Evan: “Why are you doing this to me? You sucked my cock! You sucked my fucking cock, what could have I done? It was like free pizza! Who the fuck refuses free pizza?

Knock Knock 2.jpgIn all honestly, I laughed out loud at most of the conversations in Knock Knock. This has to do, as well, with the terribly annoying performances by Lorenza Izzo (Roth’s wife) as Genisis and Ana De Armas as Bell. I get that they’re the villains of the movie, but they don’t look threatening nor dangerous, they just seem constantly high, stupid and annoying.

On top of that, the only likeable character (Evan, of course, the guy we’re supposed to feel for) is played in a laughable bad manner by Keanu Reeves. Don’t get me wrong, I have a man-crush on Keanu: he’s a lovely person and, if he’s given the right role in action movies, he can do wonders before the camera. However, he was terribly miscast in Knock Knock, where everything he says just makes me cry of laughter. His line delivery is abysmal in this movie, his mannerism obvious and clichés-filled, his range of emotions very limited.

Nonetheless, Knock Knock manages to have a very decent first act (what I previously called “erotic horror”). Despite characters and acting, the first 30 minutes are able to create some genuine tense atmosphere. Part of it is due to the very nice score and the interesting set-up, but what the first act mostly builds up is the uncertainty of what is going to happen next.

This movie, along with The Green Inferno, is a very frustrating experience for me: I wish I loved both these films, but unfortunately they’re extremely flawed and disappointing. Knock Knock, as weird as what I’m about to write may sound, is Eli’s movie with the biggest potential, because it had so many ways to be really intriguing and/or entertaining.

I still love Eli as a filmmaker, despite his movies got progressively worse in my opinion, thus I really hope his upcoming The House With a Clock in its Walls will be great. This series was loads of fun for me, I hope it was also for you guys!

Knock Knock                        4/10

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