Knock Knock

Knock Knock ★★★½

This is definitely one of the most agonizing film experiences I've ever had the pleasure of sitting through.

Roth takes a page out of the genre deconstruction book that people like Haneke and Korine have contributed to and applies it to his appreciation of grindhouse films from back in the day by adapting to a modern setting. There's tons of tongue-in-cheek nods to the purpose of suspense in films as well as purposeless violence and indulgence by partaking in exactly those things. Plenty of scenes are anything but enjoyable, utilizing tons of goofy dialogue, overacted performances, and senseless destruction of art like sculpture, painting, and music. Reeves is even tortured through these methods, becoming deafened through the very music he once found beautiful. This mean-spirited approach to horror/home invasion isn't really all that new, but given the context of modern social media and horror films these scenes take on a new light. Nearly every plot point, edit, and shot taken out of this project could be lifted from another similar one, except the tone is much more sinister and upfront about it. Roth is giving fans exactly what this genre values except the viewer has to suffer the psychological and emotional pain of Reeves just as much as he does. I think this is not only effective, but also a very purposeful and conscious decision from Roth since his last film was a remake of Cannibal Holocaust which is undeniably gorey and unrealistic. Normally for horror films, it is easy to disconnect from what is happening on screen due to this excess amount of gore or unrealistic situations, but there is no escaping the discomfort on screen here.

What makes this great overall is the directorial restraint and focus Roth exemplifies here. This isn't a tired and aimless horror flick, but rather one that hones in its criticism on its target so well that it feels like a shoddy recreation of such a film. There is a lot about the writing and the plot structure that becomes incredibly enjoyable towards the end that shows Roth isn't doing this for mainly negative satirical reasons but for more suggestive ones that elevate this film to a new plane of discomfort. This is also, unfortunately, where the ball is dropped. Roth subverts standard norms of films of this type and inserts his own twisted way of compounding stress on the viewer, but not much of anything else. The oft compared Funny Games not only had much more sound directing, but also a lot more to say about the very nature of violence in media and how people respond to it. Roth sort of makes the film about this, but there seems to be some genre elements that hold him back from really going as crazy and clever as he could've. The modern social media setting and is ripe for ridicule, but there is unfortunately very little of it. From all of the other works I've seen him contribute to as well it might be safe to assume that Roth just doesn't have all that much to say on an artistic front beyond what he does in this. He may not be able to be sincere in any way other than respect for genres and filmmaking which is admirable, but not satiable. This is a decision I will be willing to take back when I familiarize myself with more of his works.

Knock Knock is effectively satirical of the very tropes it indulges in, but it never loses focus on what it is trying to do, and that's make the viewer as uncomfortable as possible. There is a very clear and well-defined target to satirize, the target of this subversion is something that needs to be cleverly addressed, and the tropes are subverted as much as they are played with. Super interesting but definitely deeply unsettling on a plane I'm not too familiar with.

How could you NOT indulge in something like this anyway? Its pretty much like free pizza ;)

ryan liked this review