King Knight Review

Last Updated on March 21, 2022

PLOT: Thorn and Willow appear to have it all as the revered high priest and priestess of a coven of new-age witches. But a secret from Thorn’s past throws their lives into turmoil and sends them on a trippy, hilarious journey.

REVIEW: Richard Bates Jr. tends to dabble in darker material as experienced with his 2012 film Excision, but the writer and director is showing he’s not a one-trick pony with the release of King Knight, a highly hilarious satirical dark comedy that also has a surprisingly sincere tone throughout its narrative. King Knight expertly swings through dark comedy and genuine questions about finding yourself by setting itself in the world of witches and the dreaded high school reunion.

Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler) has created a life that he is very comfortable with. He lives with his life partner Willow (Angela Sarafyan) and he leads a thriving coven of suburban witches while simultaneously creating a presence on Etsy by getting involved in the highly competitive world of selling birdbaths. That business still needs some work but Thorn is happy and is living a pretty nice existence. His world, as he knows it, begins to unravel when his past catches up with him. He’s getting constant e-mails about his upcoming high school reunion but keeps pushing them off. Eventually, Willow stumbles upon the e-mails and she learns that her life partner and leader of misfit witches, was once voted most likely to succeed and was prom king, among other “horrific” high school titles. The discovery sends Thorn reeling into a search of meaning in a world he left behind as his current family reconciles if they really ever knew him at all.

Richard Bates Jr. achieves a tone with King Knight that can be very difficult to get right. The dialogue is wickedly funny and many of the situations are completely outlandish but it’s also grounded in a reality that makes the situation wholly relatable. How many of us have worried about our friends discovering something we’re embarrassed about from our past? Would it change their opinion of us? Would they think we were living a lie? The film takes this basic fear and gets consistent laughs from it. Take the scene when Willow discovers Thorn’s betrayal. The moment plays as if she discovered he cheated on her the way her emotions are running so high but her tears are coming from the fact that Thorn was once popular. The situation is sincere because to their coven this would be a serious offense but it’s absolutely hilarious because it’s completely absurd that this particular lie would create such a response. The biggest compliment I can give to the writing and the actor’s portrayal of the characters is that they play EVERY joke straight. This situation isn’t funny to them so they don’t play the scenes with a hint of sarcasm. This in turn makes all of the delivery work on a comic level because as an audience we find the jokes buried in their read. Again, this is HARD to pull off but Richard Bates Jr. finds the proper balance.

The cast is top-notch from top to bottom because they GET the material. Matthew Gray Gubler is making his fourth appearance in a Richard Bates Jr. film and you can tell that they have a strong second-hand with each other. He’s supported by a strong ensemble but this is mostly his show and he completely runs with it. The entire second half of the film is his journey to reconcile who he really is and if the person he has become is compatible with the life he has been hiding. Thorn’s past as someone who didn’t embrace his current weirdness threatens his position as head of the coven but the film presents a good message that it’s never too late to find your tribe and embrace all aspects of who you really are. Thorn is a born leader of his coven because he was once a leader in high school.

Angela Sarafyan also gives a solid performance as Willow, providing me with my favorite character of the film as she bites through Bates Jr.’s dialogue as if she was born to do it. There’s something endearing about her initial feelings about Thorn’s betrayal and then her all-or-nothing support when the coven decides they want to cast him out for not being who they thought he was. The offbeat chemistry between the duo becomes the heart of the film. Rounding out the cast in memorable supporting roles are Andy Milonakis, Kate Comer, Nelson Franklin, Emily Chang, Johnny Pemberton, and Josh Fadem. They all get moments to shine and offer up their fair share of comedic gold. Horror fans will also appreciate cameos from genre queen Barbara Crampton, as Thorn’s overbearing mother, Ray Wise, and voiceovers from Aubrey Plaza and AnnaLynne McCord, who has been a staple in Bates Jr.’s films since appearing as the lead in Excision.

King Knight ends up about being unconditional acceptance, even when that means that you may discover someone isn’t exactly who they say they are. The movie has moments of great silliness (there is a running gag about having poo in our butts that shouldn’t work but it does) but it also has a sincerity running through its veins that makes it incredibly sweet. Matching its oddball humor is some surprisingly deep character work that comments on the constant evolution of life.

king knight, movie review, richard bates jr., matthew gray gubler

King Knight



About the Author

3191 Articles Published