Coming from the mind of Hostel director Eli Roth you would be forgiven for assuming that Knock Knock would be a home invasion movie with plenty of gore. In some ways that might make for a more interesting experience because Knock Knock is essentially Roth trying his hand at something resembling an erotic thriller come horror and falling short on almost every count.
The premise is the basic set-up for a porn movie; a guy, Evan (Keanu Reeves), finds himself home alone when his wife and kids go away for the weekend only for two wet t-shirt wearing beauties, Bel (Ana de Armas) and Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) to come a knocking on his door. If those names sound like pornstars their behaviour is not far off the mark. Despite his best efforts to help them and then get them out the door, Evan eventually succumbs to their seduction. The following morning Evan awakes to find the girls still in the house, refusing to leave and revealing to him that what he did last night was not only martially wrong but also illegal. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse with the mouse increasingly being left to writhe in his trap while the cats clean themselves in the corner.
Knock Knock wants to be in the vein of an Adam Wingard film, it wants to subvert the home invasion genre the way Wingard did with You’re Next. On the surface the premise promises this; the girls turning the table on the adulterous man who is played against type by an otherwise nice Keanu Reeves. It could have been a post-modern Fatal Attraction, it could have used satire and suspense to engage for a truly interesting thrill ride but what it actually does is leave you scratching your head as to what the holy hell is really going on.
At various points Roth plants seeds as to the girls’ reason for embarking on the evening’s activities. Evan has recently had an operation on his shoulder which is injured while helping a girl remove her luggage from an airport carousel. It immediately raises the question as to whether or not Evan was flirting or having an affair and perhaps isn’t the loving husband and father we otherwise witness him being. But such plot details never bare fruit and instead are swept aside for no good reason other than them being inconvenient.
As such the characters’ motivations are never firmly established, they flit from scene to scene, normally alternating between Evan running and then being tied up, repeatedly, before sinking into the realms of “we better wrap this all up”. It’s never really made clear who we’re supposed to root for either. Evan is a seemingly nice guy, the girls on the other hand seem psychotic. So once he’s had sex with them are we supposed to revel in his psychological torture?
A solid premise poorly executed, Knock Knock is a film that promises much but leaves you bored long before the flat punch line is ever delivered.