Starring Ania Marson, Katee Sackhoff, Jordan Bolger, Richard Mylan
Directed by Caradog W. James
“Knock once to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead.” – local legend
Murderous Mary Aminov (Ania Marson) is a vindictive, gnarled witch-crone who snatches and consumes any kid fool enough to come to her door and try two knocks. This humdrum horror movie tries to create a new villain, but winds up treading old tropes. Still, there are a few things about Don’t Knock Twice that save it from the scrapheap.
The story follows Jess (Katee Sackhoff), an ex-addict who has been working to rebuild her life as well as her relationship with her estranged and bitter teenage daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton). Jess, now an admired sculptor, remarried and living in a large and lovely home, sends for Chloe in hopes that the two can reconcile. But the doubting daughter is not buying it: she just can’t trust Jess. But when her boyfriend Danny (Jordan Bolger) falls victim to the supernatural spinster, Chloe changes her tunes and seeks shelter with Jess and new stepdad Ben (Richard Mylan).
In addition to the personal strife between mom and teen, there’s the problem no one anticipated: Mary Aminov had use any door to wreak her otherworldly havoc… and there are lots of doors in Jess and Ben’s big house! There are some decent moments of suspense and dread here, once the horror gets underway – creaky hinges, shadowy figures, and things that go bump in the night – but director Caradog W. James is just going through the motions.
Luckily, Sackhoff and Boynton do not. Each gives their all to their paper-thin characters, puffing up their personalities as best they can. There are some histrionic hissy fits on the domestic side of things, then a believable mother-daughter chemistry as the deadly demon tries to divide and conquer. Pooneh Hajimohammadi is also quite good as Tira, one of Jess’s models who just happens to know an awful lot about the legend of Mary Aminov.
Cherry-picking from more substantive and stylish supernatural spookers, Don’t Knock Twice is reminiscent of Candyman, Oculus, Blair Witch, and several others – right down to the standard-issue twist ending. Still, if you enjoy the subject matter and the cast, it’s worth one knock.