Starring Lorenza Izzo, Keanu Reeves, Ana de Armas
Directed by Eli Roth
Between Hostel II and The Green Inferno, it seemed as though Eli Roth was never going to direct another film and was instead going to focus on producing and making cringe-worthy acting appearances for the rest of his life. Thankfully, he’s now got his priorities in order and places himself firmly where he belongs, in the director’s chair.
Similarly, after John Wick, Keanu Reeves is also enjoying something of a comeback, which his performance is Knock Knock will serve to strengthen. He plays a well-off family man, who after staying home to work (he’s an architect) while his wife and kids go on vacation, makes the mistake of offering shelter to two helpless young girls who are lost in the rain. Too bad for him that the girls are not what they seem, and what follows is a night of mayhem, violence, and humiliation.
Reeves’ performance is mostly impressive, as Roth tries to create a portrait of how far a man will go before being driven insane by anger and desperation. At times he does veer a bit too far into the territory of over-the-top screaming such that it becomes too much, particularly towards the end, but mostly we have a sincere portrayal of a man with everything to lose.
Like with the Hostel movies, Knock Knock is a film where, more than anything, we want a hero to arrive and save the day. We want to good guy to win and the bad guys to lose. The femme fatales, played by Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas, are two of the most detestable movie villains in recent memory, but if you want to see them get what’s coming, you’ll be disappointed. Roth seems to be deliberately teasing us by making us feel that we’re in Hollywoodland, where good always trumps over evil, only for reality to hit at the last moment. In real life, good doesn’t always prevail.
However, Roth does make the mistake of abruptly ending the night of terror by having the two girls leave the house about two thirds of the way in, cutting off the sense of tension that he had been working to create until that point, only for them to return and repeat the process later. By having the entire film occur in one house over one night, instead of going “stop, start, repeat,” we would have had something far more effective.
But what we do have is a home invasion film for the social media generation (yes, it does feature social media in its plot) that should make you think twice before offering warmth and shelter to a stranger on a dark and stormy night.