What Eli Roth has created here in Knock Knock is a not very modern day morality play. Dispensing with his wife and kids for the weekend, Keanu Reeves is confronted with two sopping wet (as in it is raining, although you know what I mean) young hotties who turn up at his door step gagging for it. Does Keanu nail them or is he a good man? That is the question. He spends an awful lot of time trying to be good, and then even more time trying to claim he is still a good man.
I watched this with the ever adorable May and the first question she asked me was was it hot? By it I presume she means the idea of sleeping with two up for it pretty women. What she really meant was “would you do it?” If there is one thing that is good about Knock Knock it is that it demands any male audience member to ask themselves that very question: if your family was away and you could have a threesome with two girls and get away with it, would you? It’s always been a big thing for guys, a threesome, but it’s never really floated my boat. It’s just too much to concentrate on. But here, it is still uncomfortable viewing even if you can say no I’d never do such a thing.* It helps that the two girls are irritating like a scraped chalk board from the moment you meet them.
This dilemma is one of the few things that keeps you watching because really there isn’t much else. The two girls are, whilst suitably bonkers, pretty much one note and seemingly of very limited acting range. The wife and kids are also awful. It is, however, Keanu Reeves, so knocked in the past for alleged woodeness, who gives a stand out performance. From his deeply uncomfortable scenes early on where he spends a lot of time literally slipping out of the girls’ clutches, sitting on smaller and smaller chairs so they can’t get closer to him, to his outrage and desperation later in the game that gives a tragic everyman feel to an actor who so often in the past has felt so remote. Reeves really give it his all, even when he’s only acting with his head (it makes sense when you see his head). In fact if he had been in any other film he might have got some serious plaudits.
However this is not any other film, it is Knock Knock and it is terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I watched it all the way throughout desperate to know how it was going to end: it is gripping simply because of the initial set up. But it is also so mind-boggingly trashy. The film desperately wants to have something to say about male weakness and sexual desire but it can only be judgemental about it. This it does whilst at the same time luridly showing two girls getting it on in the bath.
I men what is Knock Knock trying to say? That all men are pathetic? Seems a bit simplistic. Also is Eli Roth really the person to tell us this? Okay so one of his films had the female protagonist cutting off a man’s dick off with a pair of pliers but this hardly qualifies him for feminist of the year. Not that Knock Knock is in any way a feminist film, unless you accept that it treats the male and female equally as bad. Oh there’s also a gay character, or more like characeture, who is treated as joke until he is dead so Roth is covering most grounds here.
it also has this phalic imagery for its poster:
Pretty bad then really but Reeves is good and the whole thing is strangely compelling in its awfulness and old fashioned morality style even if the ending is a bit of a let down. It’s a remake so maybe it just follows what the original did but seeing how annoying this version was and the other one, titled Death Game, starred Sondra Locke, I’m in no rush to see that for comparisons.
For the sake of clarity I have to say I spent a large portion worrying about the family’s dog. As dogs in horror movies have a very low mortality rate the odds were not good. Worse was the fact the dog in question was a black French Bulldog and I’ve just got my own black French Bulldog, so it was all a bit too much. As a spoiler the dog lives, for now, but it didn’t make the film any better so I’ll end this review with a picture of my dog, being happy, having slept through the whole of Knock Knock.