It’s a real shame that Keanu Reeves opted to follow-up his acclaimed actioner John Wick with Knock Knock, a deliriously campy, sexed-up thriller that could quite possibly be the most embarrassing feature Reeves has had the displeasure of involving himself with. Toeing the camp line is always a risk with any given actor but, let’s face it, Reeves isn’t always the strongest player and Knock Knock unfortunately highlights his weaker abilities as a genre performer.
On paper the film appears fool-proof with a simple story ripe with deranged possibilities that a filmmaker like Eli Roth (Hostel) could really have some fun with; a family man, alone for a weekend, lets in two seemingly innocent strangers during a storm before they reveal their twisted personalities and wreak havoc on our unsuspecting host. There are worse films that have been made with more, and Roth, always one to indulge in uncomfortable gore and heightened sexual activity, should’ve been able to manoeuvre around his material to deliver something trashy, entertaining and unsettling. To his credit Roth has turned out something trashy and entertaining, it’s just sadly entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
Dressed up like some kind of morality tale, Knock Knock begins simple enough with Reeves’ happily married architect Evan Webber left to fend for himself one Father’s Day weekend when his wife and kids take-off for a planned beach vacation. The knock, knock at Evan’s door that night comes courtesy of “lost” duo Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas), two impossibly beautiful women who claim to be out of mobile phone service and foggy on the address of a party they are on route to. We all know where this is going and it isn’t long before the femme twosome are utilising their best seduction tactic to engage Evan in some softcore group activity. From here out the film descends into something that resembles more of the horror material we’ve come to expect from Roth, yet he never opts to match any of the gruesomeness he subjected us to with both his Hostel films or breakout feature Cabin Fever.
Izzo and de Armas are really the only reason Knock Knock works as well as it does with both actresses ironically stripping away any vanity they possess by going all in with a certain unpredictability to their performances, terrifying us in the process with how easy it all appears to be for them to play the tormentor role. Reeves on the other hand, not so believable, and it’s in his off-kilter turn that the film provides many an unintentional laugh, the actor clearly never reined in by his director. Of course there’s always the possibility that Roth wanted Reeves to over-blow it, and in that sense they’ve made something truly hilarious, but we all know that just isn’t the case.
Entertaining in a “so bad it’s good” way, Knock Knock is a puzzler of a thriller with solid production value and committed performances from Izzo and de Armas undermined by its repetitive story and campy tone. And then there’s Keanu Reeves who is better suited to either quieter roles or larger films that aren’t reliant on his sole delivery. This is one knock on the movie door you best leave unanswered.
Review Score: ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Knock Knock is available on DVD now.