Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Director: Eli Roth
Written by: Guillermo Amoedo, Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp
Screened at: Review, NYC, 9/16/15
Opens: October 9, 2015
If you heard a knock-knock at your door on a dark and stormy night and, looking through the keyhole saw two cute women in their early twenties who needed to use your phone and a bathroom, would you let them in? No? Then you’re a cold New Yorker, a narcissist, a Scrooge. That’s probably what went through the mind of Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) when faced with this situation. Evan is an architect, quite a successful one it seems as his own home in California (filmed in Santiago, Chile) could have come out of Architectural Digest. He should not have responded to the knock-knock since at the time he is alone is the spacious house, filled with art works of his successful wife Vivian (Colleen Camp), but his wife and two kids have gone to the beach for the weekend while Evan is stuck at home catching up on work.
This is a typical setup for a psychological horror movie, and who better at that kind of stuff than Eli Roth, who directs and co-wrote the script with Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás Lopéz. It’s Father’s Day and Evan considers himself a good father (he says so repeatedly), so why not act as a substitute dad for the two stranded women? But Evan is horny that night. Sexual activity with his wife was interrupted by the kids, and despite his pleading Vivian put him off until Monday. So when Genesis (Lorenza Izzo, who happens to be the director’s wife) and Bel (Ana de Armas) warm him up with a chat about sex—showing how liberated they are even to discuss the subject—he tries to resist as they cozy up to him but ultimately, as the girls themselves say near the conclusion of the story, no man has been able to counter their seductive powers.
Soon Evan is in bed, enjoying a threesome and thinking that he got lucky that night, especially since one of the girls has a striking resemblance to a young Marilyn Monroe. (Ana de Armas is Cuban born and 27 years old while Lorenza Izzo has been married to the director for just ten months).
Eli Roth’s best movie is arguably “Hostel 2”(three American college students are lured into a Slovakian hostel and regret the decision to their dying days). In this case “Knock, Knock” is a remake of Peter S. Traynor’s1977 movie “Death Game,” but is said to be a significant improvement over that story of an American businessman who invites two young women to his home. While this is a remake, it lacks originality in that it also has obviously absorbed the terrific format of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games,” which features two preppie-looking killers who take a family hostage.
While the two women tie up their victim and trash the house, including Evan’s wife’s art work and sculptures, they use the excuse that his treatment is justified as he is a homewrecker. Never mind that this is a case of entrapment. Nonetheless these are two psychopaths who enjoy torturing the men. The actresses work beautifully together as though under the spell of a master choreographer, making delicious use of a horrifying script whose highlight is an enraged monologue by Keanu Reeves’ character. Don’t expect real justice to ensue at the conclusion.
Rated R. 99 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B+