When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. A sexy new thriller from director Eli Roth, Knock Knock stars Keanu Reeves as the family man who falls into temptation and Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas as the seductresses who wreak havoc upon his life, turning a married man's dark fantasy into his worst nightmare.
When I think of a good thriller, I think of something like 'Cape Fear,' a film that is grounded in a reality in which the characters make rational - although frequently poor - decisions that lead to terrible consequences. Much like noir movies of old, the antagonist frequently acts without obvious or logical motives, and no matter what the protagonist does, he or she simply cannot get away. 'Knock Knock' kicks off heading down this great direction. It checks lots of must-have's off the list, but by the time it ends, it has fallen apart. It fails miserably, ultimately crashing and burning without ever getting tense or terrifying. The set-up was there, but it simply couldn't follow through.
Keanu Reeves leads 'Knock Knock' as Evan, the male half of a pretentious small family. He's a former old-school vinyl-spinning DJ turn architect and his wife creates giant and often silly art gallery pieces. The home they live in couldn't be any more modern: giant open spaces, huge glass window walls, 90-degree angles, and tons of the wife's "art" as decor. Together, they have two young children that couldn't be any more perfect. Evan's life is perfect … for now.
Evan is a good man and a good husband and a good father. He's a hard worker and the high quality of his work has put him in high demand. On this Father's Day, instead of being able to celebrate the day with his family at a far away secluded beach, he's spending the day alone so that he can knock out an important and unfinished project.
That evening, as an ominous storm blows over, he receives a knock on his door from two stranded girls (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas). Looking for a house party in this ritzy neighborhood, a mistaken Uber driver has dropped them off at the wrong home. Trying to get out of the rain, they've knocked every door in the neighborhood, only to find that literally everyone is out of town over this holiday weekend. With genuinely honest intentions, he lets them into his home to warm up, dry off and wait until the closest Uber can arrive – which is over an hour away. Little does he know that he has just invited hell into his home.
While waiting, he gets them towels and strikes up friendly and innocent conversation, asking them about their jobs and whatnot. As he talks with them, his mind is flooded with the nostalgia of being a single twenty-something, always in search of fun and romance. He's surprised to learn about the new twenty-something mindset and how open and unreserved it is. The girls openly speak of sex as if it's as common as talking about the weather. As the conversation progresses and grows ever more "adult" in nature, Evan can't decipher whether what they're saying is honest or if they're becoming flirty – but either way, he's noticeably uncomfortable.
Up to this point, everything in 'Knock Knock' has worked. We've been reeled in. We know that something is awry and that this innocent man is being set up for … something. The rising tension is tangible. Everything is perfectly established and we're now ready to open the door to horror and thrills – but they never come. From here it dives into absurdity and completely unravels before our eyes. Characters begin making unforgivably dumb decisions that the average everyday person wouldn't make in one hundred years. This doesn't happen just once, but repeatedly. Over and over again. From here it all goes downhill at a very brisk pace. The solid opening 30 minutes are completely ruined by the hour that follows.
Up to this point, Evan has been a good host. He has given the girls robes to wear while their clothes dry, comfortable places to sit, friendly genuine conversation and warm drinks to imbibe while awaiting their Uber – but these two girls are about to show how ungrateful and messed up they really are.
One of them heads off to the restroom and leaves him alone with the other, which is when the flirtation becomes extremely obvious. Her advances are hard to resist, but he doesn't give in. Despite being all alone, he repeatedly repels her and it's obvious to her, which is why she heads to the bathroom under the pretense of seeing why her companion is taking so long. Two are stronger than one, so they re-team off-screen. Evan waits for them to return, but neither do. So, with the Uber quickly approaching, he grabs their now-dry clothes from his laundry room and heads to the restroom to deliver their clothes and get them out of his home. This is where the out-of-character stupid decisions begin. Instead of leaving the clothes and walking away, he walks right into the bathroom and finds his two visitors completely nude, covered in bubbles and bathing in the steam-filled room. Evan finally succumbs to the temptation in this moment. A threesome ensues while Uber arrives, waits, and drives off.
Evan awakes the next morning in bed alone and full of shame, regret and sadness. He walks through the home to see if the two unwanted visitors are still around and finds them having breakfast in a destroyed kitchen. Their demeanor and attitudes have completely switched, now supposedly acting like their true childish and psychotic selves. They are silly, over the top, disrespectful and rude. This behavior is expected from Harley Quinn in the animated Batman series (or the upcoming 'Suicide Squad' movie), but it this established setting and scenario, it takes away from the reality that makes thrillers impactful. This cartoony style sticks around for the final hour of the movie. The two Looney Tunes characters torment Evan with the goal of ruining every aspect of his perfect life. His family, his marriage and his career are about to go down the drain – especially when he learns that the girls are under-age.
If you know Eli Roth, you know that he can't help but go over the top with everything - even if unintentional. It has a time and place. I've enjoyed his style in plenty of his other movies thus far, but this isn't the time nor the place for it. Roth set 'Knock Knock' up as something different from his other movies, but can't stay out of his proverbial rut for long. Not only do his usual stylistic tropes come into play, but many pieces feel familiar and borrow from other well-known pictures. For example, the torture that ensues isn't anything that you haven't already seen in arty thrillers like 'Funny Games' or 'Straw Dogs.' 'Knock Knock' is unoriginal. It's inconsistent. It's unpleasant. And I don't recommend that anyone else fall into the trap of watching it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate may have placed 'Knock Knock' on a Region A BD-50 disc, but it might as well be a BD-25 considering how many video issues this disc has. This single-disc release includes a Digital HD redemption code within the blue Elite keepcase and a cardboard slip cover. Following unskippable Lionsgate and commentary disclaimer video, the main menu is preceded by a slew of trailers that can be skipped over: 'John Wick,' 'The Last Exorcism,' 'Cabin Fever: Terror in the Flesh,' 'Saw' (redband) and Epix.
The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 presentation of 'Knock Knock' begins with some fantastic imagery, but is quickly destroyed by a plague of terrible home video-like footage.
The opening title-card-laced shots of movie walk us through Evan's home, slowly peering into his life via family photos and décor. The footage is sharp and crisp, revealing a high amount of details. You couldn't ask for anything more out of a visual presentation. Really. But two minutes later, we get into Evan's bedroom. When he and his wife fire up some morning foreplay, hideous characteristics show up. They don't slowly creep in. Bands, artifacts and pixelation - they show up in full force and undermine every great previously established aspect. Unfortunately, these unwanted flaws aren't part-time visitors. While great details can arise from time to time, the flaws re-occur time and time again.
Before long, we get to the long-lasting nighttime settings. It's here that the crushing kicks in. Shadows and darkened areas of the screen are atrocious. It's then that the low-res feel of the movie really kicks in, making it feel as if it was shot with a $200 home-use Sony camcorder and not professional grade cameras. The lightning-lit sex scene features countless bands, as does the morning-after sunrise. Evan steps outside in the morning light and a screendoor-ish pattern of noise pulse across the entire screen. This unintentional effect pops up with frequency throughout.
The video quality of 'Knock Knock' is an absolute mess.
'Knock Knock' features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track with completely average dialog and music mixing – not bad, yet not praiseworthy – but very strong effects mixing.
Nothing catches attention in the mix until the Evan's family is long gone and he's working alone in his home. When the rain arrives, so does the strong mixing. The relentless downpour brings dripping effects that plip-plop all around the room with distinct individuality for each drop. Thunder cracks off-screen and rumbles seamlessly across the channels. As Evan walks through the glass-lined halls of his home, the rain drops running off the roof are perfectly mixed to the channel that correspond with the on-screen windows. As we turn corners and follow him into different rooms, the rain effects image across the room appropriately and perfectly. Had this same level of detail and attention been placed on the video quality and the screenplay, 'Knock Knock' just might have been worthwhile.
Good thrillers are hard to come by and, unfortunately, 'Knock Knock' is not one of them. Eli Roth has a great concept on his hands here. He even manages to kick the movie off with excellent momentum; however, he can't maintain it. Before long, it slips into unbelievable silliness. Ultimately turning absurd, it never recovers and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The video quality is wrecked by an abundance of amateur-ish flaws. Most aspects of the audio are average, but the effects mixing is good. A couple decent special features are included, but nothing special. All in all, this is a disc that's not worth investing any time in, let alone money. Skip it.