Knock Knock (Movie Review)

Knock Knock (Movie Review)
4 10

This review was originally published as part of our Sundance Film Festival coverage

PLOT: A family man (Keanu Reeves) left alone for the weekend makes a deadly mistake when he allows two sexy young women (Lorenzza Izzo & Ana De Armas) to take refuge in his isolated L.A home during a storm.

REVIEW: I've rarely been as embarrassed for an actor as I've been for poor Keanu Reeves after watching Eli Roth's KNOCK KNOCK. A deliberately campy thriller that brings to mind sixties trash ­flicks like KITTEN WITH A WHIP, the line between camp and all­ out embarrassment would have been a fine line for any actor to walk. While Reeves is clearly up for having a little fun, the finished product is so mind­boggingly silly and over ­the ­top that it seems like the kind of thing that will only really appeal to connoisseurs of trash cinema rather than horror fans.

It's a shame as Reeves is coming off JOHN WICK, which is his best star­ vehicle in years. This just may be his worst. Pairing him up with Eli Roth should have been a slam dunk, but something's gone awry. Dressed up as a kind of morality tale, where solid family man Reeves finds himself tempted by two gorgeous vixens only to pay a huge price, this could have been sexy fun – a kind of FATAL ATTRACTION for the 21st century. The two girls, Izzo and De Armas are well-cast. Both are drop ­deap gorgeous and have a kind of live wire look behind the eyes that they can convincingly play psychopaths, albeit two incredibly alluring ones.

The morality of KNOCK KNOCK doesn't paint too pretty a picture, with the script by Roth, Guillermo Arnoedo and Nicolas Lopez (director of AFTERSHOCK) suggesting that no man could possibly resist a visit by these two, even a seemingly solid fellow such as the one played by Reeves. I'm not so sure – but I'll give Roth this: he makes Reeves' seduction convincing.

The film only really goes awry in the second half, once the horror aspect kicks in and the girls start tormenting Reeves. The big problem here, without a doubt, is Reeves. Again, I love the guy, but he has a range. He doesn't play camp very well, and the acting isn't just hammy it's downright bad. Reeves is so clearly miscast here that it torpedoes the film badly, and feels like a major miscalculation for both him and Roth. While it's impossible to say whether or not the film could have worked with another actor, the production value is high and the performances by Izzo and De Arnas suggest it could have.

The thing is, Roth rarely works outside of his wheelhouse. Pretty much all of his films have been torture porn in some way, and like him or not he's creative in what he does; the unreleased GREEN INFERNO shows that clearly. If this is his stab at a more mainstream sensibility, it might have worked but it's puzzling that Roth couldn't get a better performance out of Reeves, unless he was trying to get him to be bad, which feels like a miscalculation as even casual horror fans won't be able to take this seriously. Reeves really needed a director who would protect him from embarrassing himself like this, and some of the low­points of his performance feel destined to become a YouTube compilation similar to the spot Nicolas Cage found himself in with THE WICKER MAN.

In the end, I must admit KNOCK KNOCK does have entertainment value in that it works in a “so bad it's good” kind of way, but it seems doubtful that's the kind of thing Roth's fans were hoping for from his latest. Maybe I'm just not getting the joke of it all, but as a fan of Reeves, KNOCK KNOCK left me mortified.



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