I really don’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to KNOCK down Eli Roth’s movies. I gotta KNOCK this review outta the park. Can’t KNOCK it til you try it, right? Ok I’m done making terrible puns now. On with the review.
When it comes to 2015 and “erotic films”, there are only 3 that I can think of, and they all seem to fit a weird kind of category. There was The Boy Next Door, which judging from previews and reviews I heard or saw, fits into the “early year, who gives a shit, shitty movie” category; 50 Shades of Grey, the one that everyone will go to cause it’s popular yet it’s really stupid, sends the wrong message, based on Twilight fan-fiction porn, and kinda going through an identity crisis of being romantic, erotic, or both (and of course there’s gonna be 2 more movies of that shit); and then there’s Knock Knock, which kinda fits into the Fatal Attraction mindset, where the guy has a brief affair or sexual encounter with someone that’s clearly INSANE. Or in this movie’s case, 2 girls the guy has an affair with that subject him to probably the worst time of his life.
Knock Knock is the second of Eli Roth’s movies starring his wife Lorenza Izzo (clearly her character from The Green Inferno has gone completely nuts if that were the case in this movie lol; also is Eli Roth gonna be another one of those directors that has to cast his wife in EVERYTHING now? not to say that’s a bad thing, it can just come off as a bit of a dependency issue if that were the case, like with other directors, so looking at you Tim Burton) that came out in 2015, the first being The Green Inferno, which I already reviewed. While that was a tribute to cannibal films, this movie, from what I looked up anyway, is a remake of a movie called Death Game that came out in the 1970s. I guess calling it Death Game would sound too cheesy (not that prevents the dialogue in this movie from being that way)? Even one of the movie’s stars, Colleen Camp, appears in this movie and also produced it. Keanu Reeves not only stars as the lead, but produced this movie too. With the onset of the 2010s, Reeves has been more (as Wikipedia describes it) “artistic” in his work, and it has definitely shown not just in this movie, but also John Wick and others (also I’m really excited for John Wick: Chapter Two), and probably The Neon Demon too that came out this year, at least I hope so, I’ve yet to see it. He really has made a comeback, playing more grizzled and/or eclectic characters of particularly artistic movies as a neat contrast to his roles of the past, showing that he has evolved over the years in his career. Though I will say this movie is a bit “meh” in that regard.
This movie isn’t bad, per se, it has its cringing moments, but I will say it fulfills the idea of an erotic thriller film being exciting or interesting, especially considering the others that came out in 2015. It does explore how fucked up some people can be after they entice someone with sex or something and the ramifications, which is them proceeding to make their lives a living Hell. And that’s basically all the movie is about. Two girls named Genesis and Bel (played by Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) that were stalking a guy named Evan (played by Reeves), who’s watching over his house and working while his family are away, come over pretending to be lost, have sex with him, and proceed to torture him and ruin his life. All for a little more than an hour and a half running time, yet it feels a bit longer than that.
If there’s anything particularly bad about the film, it’s the story and dialogue. The story is pretty basic and repetitive, with hardly any changes throughout the film other than the torture that the women put Evan through gets worse and worse for him, until finally they completely ruin his life. Not to sound sexist or anything, but he’s like a giant compared to these two scrawny girls, he could easily kick their asses yet he’s beaten by them at every turn. And then there’s the dialogue. For a movie that’s a remake of a movie from the 70s and set in present-day, it sure seems like they talk like they’re in the 70s. Every sentence, every word, every sound coming out of their mouths, comes off as stiff, wooden, and/or awkward, not to mention expository and maybe just a little pretentious, though at the same time it is pretty darkly funny in how tongue-in-cheek and cheesy it is, yet even that can get kind of annoying. And the performances by the three leads here are pretty good despite all that, especially the women. Try not having nightmares of these two after seeing this movie.
What seems like a pretty weird or mean-spirited movie at first glance can also be a nice satire on home invasion and torture horror (or torture porn, for that matter), complete with eroticism and even social media added to the mix, with it being featured throughout the film and even fitting into the film’s climax (no not that kind of climax, get your mind out of the gutter). Though in my opinion, I like to think that “deleted scene/alternate ending” of Evan finding the girls at another house, torturing a new victim, seemingly about to get his revenge, as the “real” ending of the film. It’s more satisfactory, considering that really Evan was presented in the film as a nice guy, who gave in to temptation for one moment, and experienced a living nightmare by these nightmarish ladies.
Knock Knock is an okay movie with a nice satirical, darkly humorous, and pretty scary approach in its story, characters and characterization, performances, writing, direction, and subject matter, but can come off as a bit pretentious, mean-spirited, repetitive, and a little boring as well, much like the other 2015 Eli Roth movie The Green Inferno. This movie is pretty recommendable if there’s a need to kill time and especially more engaging and believable than 50 Shades of Grey, though that isn’t saying much. A good lesson from watching this though is to not watch it immediately after The Green Inferno as part of an “Eli Roth double feature” kind of night (like I did). You’d need a drink, or several, for that.