A devoted father helps two stranded young women who knock on his door, but his kind gesture turns into a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.A devoted father helps two stranded young women who knock on his door, but his kind gesture turns into a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.A devoted father helps two stranded young women who knock on his door, but his kind gesture turns into a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Directed by Eli Roth Knock Knock is an uncredited remake of 1977s Death Game (though the original director and stars are executive producers). Knock Knock hits all the beats from the original while also updating the premise with references to contemporary society and technology. I honestly didn't like Death Game when I saw it because I found the plot repetitive and the characters annoying, but I did give it props for being a well made attempt by an inexperienced director and having a chilling performance from Sondra Locke. Knock Knock is certainly more polished of a product in terms of film making in comparison to its more grind house level predecessor, but while the package has been glossed up the content is considerably lesser this time around.
The opening 40 minutes are easily the best part of Knock Knock as we establish Evan's sexual frustration and hectic family situation that build up to the seduction. It's honestly really well told and is much better here than it was in the original 1977 film where the wife and kids were basically non entities for much of the original film's runtime. The film is also well shot with great looking establishment shots of the house.
Unfortunately beneath the coat of polish that's been applied many elements have been downgraded in terms of quality despite a supposedly more experienced director, Roth, helming the remake of a film that was made by an amateur. Keanu Reeves is a good actor, but only if given the right material. Reeves in Knock Knock does have a fun brief shining moments such as scene midway through the movie where he's trying to rebuke the advances of the seducers, but it feels like the role was written with someone like Nicolas Cage in mind and they just shoehorned Reeves into the role because they couldn't get him. Reeves still sporting his John Wick doo just doesn't sell it as a workaday family man and doesn't sell a role that he just doesn't fit into.
Ana de Armas and Lorenza Izzo start off well enough as the seducers when they first arrive in the movie, but around the halfway point where they reveal their true intentions they become absolutely insufferable to listen to. Not only do they act like oversexed brats with middle school level vocabularies, they have this unearned sense of "holier than thou" moral superiority that makes them extra aggravating. While movies with killers with prideful moral superiority complexes can work, such as Kiefer Sutherland as The Voice in Phone Booth or Tobin Bell as The Jigsaw Killer in Saw, those movies at least had some level of self awareness that their killers were hypocritical scum doing ex post fact justifications of their actions. Knock Knock is more confused and feels like it muddled its intentions much like Nicolas Cage's Wicker Man remake where they replaced the Paganism/Christianity dynamic with a fundamentally confused masculinity/femininity dynamic. Roth tries to update the very 70s counterculture girls with updated equivalents for the digital age, but it comes off more as an excuse for Roth to amp up the annoyance of characters who were already pretty grating to begin with.
Knock Knock is Roth at his worst. While it's not as bad as his worst movie, Hostel Part II, by virtue of at least being unintentionally fascinating in some confusing choices it's still an unnecessary remake of a very flawed movie that is not approved upon save for technical details. It's not completely without merit thanks to some decent cinematography and brief moments of good acting, but if you have a choice between this and the original, stick with the original, for all its flaws it at least had the excuse of an inexperienced director.
- Mar 27, 2021