Evan (Keanu Reeves) is an architect who lives in a nice neighbourhood with his wife Karen (Ignacia Allamand) and two young children, and life seems to be going pretty comfortably for him, aside from some recent shoulder surgery that is healing. As this is Father’s Day, his kids interrupt him and his wife from getting amorous with a cake and a present, which he is amused to receive and plays with them for a while, but part of him wishes he could have gone further with Karen, it has been a few weeks, after all. He has a lot of work to catch up on, so when the rest of his family go to spend a couple of days at the beach, he settles down to finish it. However, he has reckoned without a couple of visitors…
Director Eli Roth was proving a divisive character in the horror movie business by the time both Knock Knock and The Green Inferno were released within a short time of each other, finding some fans but mostly a lot of opprobrium from audiences who couldn’t accept the apparent moral messages from what amounted to schlock. As far as he was concerned, he was imparting a serious theme to these horrors yet the suspicion that he was pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone who had anything good to say about his work was seemingly ever-present. This one had something to say about infidelity, updating an old grindhouse flick from the nineteen-seventies to the world of twenty-first century communication technology.
That movie was Death Game, and the two female stars of that, Colleen Camp and Sondra Locke, were on board as producers here, which must have been some kind of endorsement, and Camp showed up in one scene to play offended at the implication Evan has had his wicked way with a woman not his wife. That was the premise, a couple of young ladies, Genesis (Roth’s wife Lorenza Izzo) and Bell (Ana de Armas), appear at his door in the pouring rain and ask to use, nope, not his phone but his computer, as if to indicate we were in the thrusting age of modernity in comparison to what this was drawn from. Before you know it, polite Evan has asked them in and they are in robes he has provided while their clothes dry.
And when he goes to give them their clobber, he is dragged into the bathroom where they are showering for a threesome, and we are supposed to put ourselves in his shoes and judge whether what he does is worth all the mayhem that arrives the next morning as the girls refuse to leave, then turn menacing. But the problem with that was it was an artificial situation, so whether you agreed with Evan or his visitors, you couldn’t really say it was an accurate depiction of the battle of the sexes, no matter how it resolved itself. Once Genesis and Bell have Evan tied up and are wrecking his house before staging what they claim is a statutory rape, it has become so over the top that you would be advised to treat Knock Knock as a thriller rather than any reflection on any real world concerns.
As in Hard Candy, the similar effort from a few years before that set itself up as a talking point movie but would likely not have you backing anybody in the non-story, Roth gave a lot of time over to having the tormentors talk, all the better to make it come across as a debate you could carry on in the comfort of your own home afterwards, but unless you wanted to feel very tired it offered very little to any discussion about just how careful you had to be in the sphere of the internet’s interest in seeing every tiny detail of everyone else’s life, for how many times had you ever heard of two women deliberately seducing one man to provide an excuse to “punish” him? The original, while no masterpiece, did have a certain barmy energy and an ending Roth eschewed for something less final for all the characters, but even with Keanu acting his heart out there was nothing here but the embodiment of an internet troll raining down self-righteous rage on some hapless stooge - the girls have no care for Evan's innocent family whatsoever - if you wanted to extend the online analogies. Music by Manuel Riveiro.