By Jason Smith (York, North Yorkshire, England)
Knock Knock… F*** Off
Keanu Reeves stars in his worst movie since The Lake House.
Eli Roth really should have stuck to over the top, in your face, gore shock tactics rather than inadvisably venture into psychological home invasion terror, as Keanu Reeves stars as Evan Webber, a family man and architect/former DJ with a recent shoulder injury (I bet THAT’S not a plot device later) who is left home alone one weekend by his artist wife (Ignacia Allamand) and two children. On father’s day no less. That night he is visited by a duo of party girls, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana De Armas) who have apparently become lost in the stormy night whilst trying to find their friends house. Being a ‘good’ and ‘honest’ man, Evan invites them into his home to take shelter while they wait for a taxi.
What follows is some blatant, and at times, over-the-top flirting by the pieces of two antagonists while Evan struggles to stay true and faithful to his wife. Eventually the inevitable happens and the halo slips from Evan’s crown and sets the wheels into motion for the plot to truly thicken, or so one might assume. To spare any spoilers, this is where the plot description ends (for anyone actually willing to endure this feature) with exception for a few minor grievances…
Now, it is well known that Hollywood, and subsequently, the majority of fictional visualizations, have a tendency to cast actors and actresses years older than the characters they are portraying . You’ll often find ‘thespians’ in their mid to late twenties playing characters in their late teens to early twenties. Everyone wants to be younger. Sometimes it’s somewhat believable (some kids have hard paper rounds) and sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch (the cast of Glee can retire now, right?), here we have the incomprehensible. At some stage in the proceedings it was deemed feasible to try and make us believe that our two uninvited guests are in fact 15. 15. Fifteen. Five, plus teen. Now, Ms. Izzo and Ms. De Armas are youthful looking actresses a good few years away from playing Aunt May in the next Spider-Man reboot, but to even attempt to make out that they’re still too young to appear on 16 and Pregnant is frankly insulting to the audience.
This same audacity is splattered around the picture like a Jackson Pollock painting, from the assistant who desperately needs his inhaler to Evan’s physiotherapist who…is really only there for sheer annoyance really I guess. These tropes would have been all part of the ride and expected in a standard horror fair similar to those in Eli Roth’s back catalogue, but here, the writer/director/dream weaver is attempting a genre that requires a more nuanced and measured approach rather than the ham-fisted attempt presented here.
The message is hammered home from start to finish in this mess, adultery, cheating, unfaithfulness, however you wish to describe it is wrong, which is right, but subjecting us to this ‘mental and physical’ torture is a far worse crime. The pacing is laborious, with scenes feeling completely unnecessary and overstaying their welcome, as if this was once a 30-minute short padded out to feature length to accommodate its lead. The acting is all over the place, with characters Genesis and Bel being extremely erratic, going from mature and flirty to juvenile to over-the-top psychopathic, sometimes between cuts. Keanu fairs slightly better than his fledgling counterparts, being more believable as Evan. But you can still spot the exact moment he shows up to work just thinking about the pay check and praying that John Wick 2 comes along quickly, so as not to disappear into the mediocre horror movie pit that engulfed Ethan Hawke.
To summarize, Hard Candy did it better, if you want good a Keanu Reeves flick go watch John Wick, if you want to see Eli Roth on one of his better days go check out Cabin Fever if you want two soaking wet girls showing up at a front door, there are places on the internet for that. Treat this like The Matrix sequels… pretend it never happened.