Cert: 18 / 99 mins / Dir. Eli Roth / Trailer
The problem is that I like Eli Roth. I don't necessarily enjoy everything he's put his name to, but I (think I) get where he's coming from, and I admire any film-maker for ploughing their furrow so committedly. That's why it's difficult for me to imagine the writing-room for his supremely lazy new feature, Knock Knock, without also picturing a sheet of A4 paper masking-taped to the wall bearing the guideline, "Fifty-shades, for the dads!"
Knock Knock sees Keanu Reeves star as Evan Webber, the sort of Movie-Architect™ who drinks red wine and smokes weed while he's working, and has bought a high-end Pioneer DJ-rig to play his Kiss MP3s through. For this alone he deserves everything that's coming to him. With his unfeasible wife and unbearable children out of town because of Plot Reasons™, Evan answers the door on a wet and stormy evening to two nymphomaniac psychopaths. But surely a re-imagined Home Alone with added Sexy Time™ is every man's fantasy, right? Well, Eli Roth certainly hopes so, having cast his wife as Evil Vixen #1 like a latter-day Rob Zombie. The audience which partook in his twisted erotic psycho-thriller*1 at 10:20am on Saturday comprised exclusively of middle-aged men, who were attending on their own. I can't take the piss out of that too loudly as I was also firmly within that bracket, but I don't envision any more diverse a crowd at the later showings, either.
So the audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats for some time, waiting for the opera of gleeful and wanton violence to begin, because however sadistic it turned out to be, things couldn't get any more excruciating than the prolonged bout of Saucy Dialogue™ preceding it. Roth's screenplay feels like a cheap late-night thriller, but Keanu's solid-oak delivery drags the whole thing down to the level of a cheap porno. Far tackier than it was ever intended to be (surely?), by the time the film hits the 45-minute mark, Evan isn't the only one wishing for the torment to end.
Amazingly, Reeves manages to be the worst thing in a bad film, and his "You're going to fucking kill me?" monologue at the crest of the film elicited more laughter from the audience than I'm sure it was meant to. I never thought I'd say this, but for unsettling psychological horror, Roth's Hostel is far more fun, and more earnestly made. Tarantino pulls the femme-fatale schtick off way better than Roth, and given their shared cinematic history, I'm surprised Knock Knock is in the state it is.
I like Reeves, I like Roth, and even my patience was tested beyond any acceptable limit.
Although the part of the film I enjoyed the most was in the final fifteen seconds, where Evan's wife returns home and surveys the utter carnage beyond the front door, and a previously well behaved, 50-something Asian gentleman seated adjacent to me hollered at the top of his voice in all earnestness, "…look for him and get him out of there!!", illustrating the pantomime nature of the film better than even the director or cast could.
You've got that one fan if nothing else, Eli.
Well played, I suppose
Telly/Netflix, if you absolutely must. But don't blame me…
*looks over spectacles*
Not even close.
*looks over spectacles*
Reeves starred in 1993's Much Ado About Nothing, alongside Brian 'Boss Nass' Blessed.
*1 The film's PR has it billed as a 'horror', but calling Knock Knock a horror because Eli Roth has his name on the label is like calling One Hour Photo a comedy because it's got Robin Williams in it.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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