KNOCK KNOCK – REVIEW – Mr. Anderson is punished for being a middle aged hipster by a pair of prankster girls.
Keanu Reeves plays Evan, a successful architect who has it all: two perfect children, a beautiful Spanish wife, who is a successful artist and a gorgeous house in the suburbs. Wife and kids are off to the beach for the weekend, leaving daddy home alone to finish a work project, smoke some weed and listen to his old vinyl records. In the classic Horror movie nocturnal rain there is the eponymous knock knock on the door, but instead of the monster two nubile dripping babes are there asking where the party is. They have got lost and the chivalrous Evan invites them in. Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana De Armas) are party girls, air hostesses and up for anything, it is quickly revealed. Bel tells Evan she needs to get used to threesomes for when she gets married. When Evan professes shock ‘that’s a statement!’, Genesis scolds him ‘We’re animals that are more animals than animals.’
The flirting, the flattery, the seduction chip away at Evan’s resolve as the family portraits stare down at him in reproof, but when he finally succumbs he wakes up the next day with more than the usual slice of regret. Bel and Genesis are apparently not going anywhere and they want to punish Evan for his rich white male entitlement, toying with him as two cats might play with an angst ridden mouse.
A remake of the 1977 B-movie shocker “Death Game” starring Sondra Locke and Colleen Camp, Knock Knock is more restrained than its B-movie origins or Mr. Roth’s previous CV would suggest. The early scenes of family bliss ‘Chocolate cake with sprinkles, my favorite!’ are pleasantly credible and the introduction of the girls and their mischievous wooing of Evan is excellently played. There are some nice generic sidesteps as well. It’s good to see a family pet – cute dog called Monkey – NOT getting killed and one possible twist is dispensed with as Genesis writes on a mirror and later wears a t-shirt with the message ‘This is not a dream’.
How far the black humor works as satire depends on how culpable you feel Evan actually to be. Is there any truth to the girls’ repeated claims that he is a predator, pedophile etc? Is he being punished simply for his adultery (in which case this is the reactionary dressed as the rebellious) or for his Hipster privilege – ‘I love the sound of vinyl’? This is basically a Funny Games, but, you know, for kids.
Keanu makes a convincing victim – all the more so because of his action movie credentials and Izzo and Da Armas are by turns savagely sexy and spitefully bonkers. Roth’s splatter and gore is replaced by a more insidious jitteriness about our social media profiles, the new transparency of the glass houses in which we live, making us vulnerable to those who wish to heave bricks about.