When they hinted at “Knock Knock” being the surprise movie two minutes before it started to roll, I got quite excited. It was one of the movies that I hoped they would show at this years /slash Filmfestival, so after my initial disappointment when the program was released, I now was pleasantly surprised that I’d get to see it after all. But while the movie starts off rather promising, I’m afraid that ultimately, I was rather disappointed by it.
Before we go on, let me say that I’m rather indifferent to Eli Roth. I’m neither a lover nor a hater, simply because so far, I’ve only seen his “Hostel” films, which weren’t really my cup of tea, but at least had a couple of interesting ideas. I also quite liked the general idea of “Knock Knock”, and the first 30 minutes or so were quite good. Eli Roth does a good job putting the (male?) audience into Evan’s shoes, so that we have to ask ourselves: What would we do? He also makes sure that Evan doesn’t jump at the chance of having a threesome with two young, beautiful girls right away. He very much acts like a gentleman, letting them in when they stand in the rain, drying their clothes, calling them a cab, and doing his best to keep them at a distance. I also found it quite interesting that in this situation, Eli Roth pretty much puts all the power into the hands of the two girls, while Evan looks almost helpless in comparison. And as much as I’m against adultery (and would like to believe that in a similar situation, I’d have the tenacity to say “no” – however, I do firmly believe that we can only ever know how we would react when we actually ARE in said situation), Eli Roth makes his ultimate surrender quite understandable.
Which, however, already brings me to my first complaint: I think I would have preferred an approach that doesn’t make Evan look like the victim of this sexual predators pretty much from the beginning, even before they have sex – let alone everything that follows afterwards. They make it a little too easy for the audience to excuse his adultery, thus the punishment that follows seems to be in no relation to his misdemeanor. Having Evan actively pursuing them in a bar or so would have made things a lot less black and white. I also would have preferred if they would have toned down the “crazy bitch”-act of the girls. Having them go about their revenge matter-of-factly, cold, calculated and business-like would have made them much scarier in my book. And I really wish they would have dropped the whole statutory rape-angle. It was completely unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the movie. There were also a couple of scenes where the protagonists had to act in a totally stupid way in order for the movie to not be over right away, like Evan dropping the knife, and especially the reaction of a certain person that visits the house later on. Seriously, you won’t believe your eyes when you see what he’s doing when he finds Evan. Definitely a very strong contender for “most stupid scene of the year”. Another thing that mostly didn’t work for me was the strange “game show”/torture-scene, which felt incredibly forced to me, didn’t really fit the rest of the movie, and also seemed more comical than scary/brutal.
My major gripe, however, is a certain action undertaken by the girls during the movie. [VAGUE SPOILERS CONCERNING THE ENDING AHEAD] See, there’s a twist at the end that suggest that they might not be the brutal, bloodthirsty and crazy bitches that they appear to be throughout the rest of the movie. And I actually would have loved that revelation, since suddenly, things wouldn’t have been quite as black as white as they seemed before, and Evan’s punishment would have been more befitting of his “crime”. Unfortunately, due to a certain something that they did before, this switch didn’t work for me – and that’s a damn shame, because otherwise, I really loved the ending. Some might be thrown off by the complete tonal shift the movie undertakes in its last couple of minutes, but I actually really loved it, with the like-button and the kids reaction when they get home two particular standouts. If only they wouldn’t have blown up the erratic, unpredictable and seemingly dangerous behavior of the girls before, in order to then make the twist all the more surprising – because for me, they pretty much ruined it in the process. And, one final complaint: Having Evan look that much as a victim, instead of a perpetrator, should make it far too easy for his wife to forgive him his dirty deeds. Ultimately, “Knock Knock” is a movie with a great premise, but a clumsy and at times flat-out flawed execution.