jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think I’m reaching the point where Eli Roth is going to become one of my “misunderstood” filmmakers – four films in and there’s a true sinisterness to the way he creates his work, a true evil in that he is perhaps the only filmmaker managing to tap into pure, relentless vileness into the heart of American culture. You can read Knock Knock through any political lens you have – the film manages to create a pretty fascinating discussion as it pertains to both left and right thought – but I think the core idea of this film is to note the (admittedly forgetful) obvious in American culture: this sort of evilness and vileness exists everywhere, some more apparent than others.
Knock Knock examines the ideas of the “nice guy” and Roth and Keanu Reeves (who gives a Cageian performance worthy of rivaling many of Cage’s own great performances) manage to convincingly tap into that mindset; the first bit of the film deceptively sets up Keanu’s Evan as being sympathetic – a clear family man and obviously dedicated to his wife – but as the film progresses, his misogyny is revealed as being something hidden by the façade of his marriage and his home, the latter eventually turns on him and on us, the viewer: what seems like a luxurious and beautiful home in the beginning becomes a tight and restricted jail cell by the end and I think that this is alluding to Evan’s façade falling apart on him. The rest of the film becomes Evan trying to avoid owning his mistakes when it’s so clearly his fault.
The Pizza speech is amazing – there's people who’ve read that as what I've described above as being Evan’s inability to own his actions and I completely and utterly agree. As of now, this is easily Roth’s best film; I'm very curious in seeing the original film Death Game and see how Roth evolved from that film. And as much as Keanu does Cage, Keanu is the only one who could’ve played this type of character so convincingly – Cage has played characters that’re flawed and horrible, Keanu (especially in the last decade) has had a beloved fanbase and is often seen as being a positive light for people: for him to switch into this horrible character halfway through the film only adds to the film’s critique.