These three just took erotic role-playing to the next level. Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas star in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock.
Director – Eli Roth
Screenplay – Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez & Guillermo Amoedo
Producer – Colleen Camp, Tim Degraye, Cassian Elwes, Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez & Miguel Asensio Llamas
Rated R for disturbing violent behavior, strong sexual content, nudity and language
Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) is a happily married man with a beautiful wife, Karen (Ignacia Allamand), beautiful kids and a comfy job. It’s the perfect life meaning someone’s bound to piss in this family’s cheerios.
Imagine if it was by two young, extremely hot and horny women. Can you Imagine how much that would suck?
Well, turns out after Evan’s wife and kids are away on family beach trip – one he can’t make ’cause of unexpected work plans – two young and extremely hot girls, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas), arrive at his door, soaking wet, looking for directions to a party and just begging to be ravaged. You could say it’s like “free pizza showing up at your door”. What would you do if free tantalizing pizza just showed up at your door? Well, if you’re Evan, you would eventually succumb to their unbridled horniness, a one-time mistake that carries with it some life-threatening consequences when Genesis and Bel turn out to be a tad more than the two party sluts Even initially thought they were.
Alimony and child support will be the least of Evan’s worries.
Throughout all of Knock Knock’s mayhem, the most shocking element here is just how restrained Eli Roth, the man most moviegoers credit for popularizing the torture porn craze, is in the blood and gore department. It’s mostly non-existent.
If Roth finished a double feature of Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, then followed that up with another encore double feature of Fifty Shades of Grey and Hard Candy, we’d eventually get Knock Knock from him, probably the most bat-shit crazy good film I’ll see this year.
Something I was not expecting to say.
If you’ve read my review of The Green Inferno, you’d know I said this: “As absolutely horrible as those two Hostel movies of his (Roth) were, I still contend that there’s gotta be a good film within him.” I’m not gonna say this is as good as either Fatal Attraction or Funny Games (the 1997 original at least). Knock Knock, inspired by the 1977 exploitation film Death Game, isn’t as tense as Lyne’s erotic thriller (having Glenn Close as Alex Forrest helps), nor as smart as Haneke’s sadistic home invasion thriller, but it is the very sort of nutty, campy erotic thriller that failures like The Perfect Guy or The Boy Next Door wish they could be, and presents us with a refreshing change of pace from Roth’s uber-grotesque shtick.
Right from the start, Roth effectively sets an sleek, elegant mood that immediately tells you how perfect Evan’s life seems to be, while giving off the obligatory erotic thriller hints that things are gonna go south pretty soon. Even in his worst films, Roth has always brought a technical competency, and it’s no exception here as he provides a wide assortment of nifty camera shots and long, winding takes throughout Evan’s home (aside, from a couple scenes on the porch and backyard, about 85-90% of the film takes place in the house).
Though the opening minutes start out a tad rough during the family set up (the family device is, of course, a key component to the narrative’s conflict, but Keanu Reeves is, unsurprisingly, a bit stiff during those cutesy, playful daddy moments), Roth does do a fine job building tension once Genesis and Bel arrive. When things finally snap and the girls turn mucho loco, the transition is quicker than desired, and that there’s my main issue with the film. But despite the abrupt switch into overdrive, it’s thanks to the game, completely bonkers work from both Lorenza Izzo (whose performance in The Green Inferno was one of the film’s few redeemable aspects) and the fetching Ana de Armas (who has clearly attended the Penelope Cruz/Salma Hayek school of syllable enunciation) that the descent into Funny Games hell becomes an enjoyably demented tale of consequences.
Anyone that’s expecting thespian artistry from Keanu Reeves, who must’ve made a deal with the Devil to look as young as he does for being 51, hasn’t seen – well, most of his work (I say most, ’cause a few filmmakers have tapped into what strengths he does have in films like Parenthood, Speed, The Matrix and last year’s John Wick). Likeable guy, absolutely, but not the smoothest at delivering dialogue. I gotta give him a little credit though for going all-out like he does, and believe when I say he goes all-out. I don’t think I’ll have to go out of my way to convince you that he won’t be bringing home any Oscar gold next year, but in the event they create a category for “Best Insane, Nigel Tufnel Approved ‘All the Way to 11’ Rant”, Reeves wins by a mile.
In a film that takes itself even the slightest bit more seriously than this one does, Reeves’s monologue starts entering cringe-inducing territory, but given the film’s maddeningly over-the-top and nutty tone, it works in its own crazy way.
Eli Roth isn’t Adrian Lyne or Michael Haneke, but for all his film’s faults, Knock Knock is still a welcome step up over his prior efforts, and proof that he can utilize his twisted sensibilities in ways that aren’t depressingly ugly. The cautionary tale of how even one mistake is capable of upending your idyllic life isn’t particularly deep, and of all the things Roth isn’t, subtlety is at the top of the list, but as a slick, campy and entirely ludicrous erotic thriller, Knock Knock is a wildly entertaining time.
Now if you excuse me, I have some free pizza to attend to.
I give Knock Knock a B (★★★).
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