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    Knock Knock (2015): Movie Review


    "A loud suspenseful knock that never truly surprises.”


    Keanu Reeves is the latest victim of two psychopathic sexpots in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock. Inspired by Peter Traynor’s 1977 exploitation flick called Death Game, this psychological horror film turns a sexy home invasion into a traumatic sadistic torture for a respectable family man.

    Evan Webber (Reeves) is a 43-year-old architect with a beautiful wife and two children. His artist wife, Karen (Ignacia Allamand), fills their secluded minimalist home outside Los Angeles with her colourful, modern art of which he is proud of. It is during one weekend when Evan is about to have morning sex with his wife when their kids burst in to greet him a happy Father’s Day. The day has officially begun and immediately, Karen and the children depart for the beach. Evan opts to stay behind as he intends to spend the weekend catching up on a project.


    The night is creepily stormy and Evan is busy working on a CAD software with some few drinks and a loud music from his treasured vinyl records when there is a sudden knock at the door. He answers to the call and two young ladies, dripping wet in their scanty clothes, appear before his eyes. The brunette is named Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and the blonde is Bel (Ana de Armas). They are stranded on their way to a party, claiming that the cab dropped them off in the wrong spot. Being the accommodating host, Evan hands them some robes and put their clothes in the drier. An Uber cab can’t get to his place for 45 minutes and so they spend the time engaging in some friendly chitchat. However, the conversation turns into steamy flirtation as the girls offer their unsolicited wisdom on millennial sex, flatter Evan with his biceps and his record collection, and get intimately touchy and showy. Evan tries to evade by refusing to bite into their innuendoes and praising his wife. But then the girls begin nibbling on his cock and what follows is a long overnight of sizzling sex.

    Evan wakes up the following morning to see a messy kitchen and his wife’s artworks vandalized. Worse, gone are the cuddly babes, replaced with psychotic bitches intent on destroying his reputation.

    Torture-porn is Eli Roth’s forte and Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel (2005) and The Green Inferno (2015) are some of the notable films he directed in the genre. With Knock Knock, he retains his darkly comic style while taking the suspense to a different level. Instead of setting his story to a conventional hair-raising location, he brings the horror to somewhere familiar – to the peaceful home of a perfectly happy family. This is quite more disturbing as the film demonstrates that there is no safe place from the games of the unruly, even within the confines of our own homes.


    Ironically, the first half of the film is more intriguing than the second. Setting up is thankfully quick, as well as the introduction of characters. The arrival of the foxy duo starts building up the tension, especially when their initial embarrassed attitudes turn into a little more open and comfortable than they should be. Then the inevitable happens and we feel a little mixed-emotion of envy and worry for Reeves’ Evan, possibly more of the first as we do not know yet what would happen.

    Tomorrow comes, the next act takes place and the tension hyped up a notch higher as last night’s vixens turn into gremlins. This is where everything snaps and the film takes the overly familiar tread. Forgotten is Evan’s ecstasy, replaced with morbid terror as the girls go through a series of repetitive abusive procedures for him.

    What nags at us the most is who the hell are those girls. Where is their anger coming from? What’s the story behind their sadism? They just suddenly become violent, tie up Evan and force him to participate in games only they know the rules. What is the reason for everything? These questions flirt with us the whole time but the screenplay refuses to answer them. There are hints coming from the girls’ mouths and from their actions but they are so inconsistent and unpredictable that it is difficult to believe which stories are real. After a while, it becomes tiring; the whole mess looks unbelievable and the ending feels anticlimactic. The girls finally give an explanation before they leave but the logic is quite dense and their social experiment is simply a frustrating annoyance.


    Well, there are some amusing parts in the movie, particularly the use of technology like Uber and Facetime. With all fairness, the torture parts are also wickedly funny such as when the girls pretend to be in a guessing-game show while Evan is tormented with loud music for non-cooperation, and when they make a papier-mâché out of a “living” man.

    Reeves is a welcome sight in the movie, possibly enticing more audience beyond the usual genre fans. His low-key, good-guy appeal serves him right, providing an easy target and contrasting contrast to the girls’ overflowing sexuality. But Izzo and de Armas are not merely boner materials as their comic yet sick sisterhood shows genuine menace. 

    Knock Knock is suspenseful but unsatisfying.  Acts of violence, both physical and psychological, are effective but the film never truly justifies them. 


    Production companies: Sobras International Pictures, Dragonfly Entertainment, Camp Grey 
    Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp 
    Director: Eli Roth 
    Screenwriters: Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez, Guillermo Amoedo 
    Producers: Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez, Miguel Asensio Llamas, Colleen Camp, Cassian Elwes, Tim Degraye 
    Executive producers: Keanu Reeves, Teddy Schwarzman, Sondra Locke, Peter Traynor 
    Director of photography: Antonio Quercia 
    Production designer: Marichi Palacios 
    Costume designer: Elisa Hormazabal 
    Editor: Diego Macho Gomez 
    Music: Manuel Riveiro

     

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