Eli Roth’s Knock Knock

What exactly was Eli Roth hoping to accomplish with Knock Knock? Awkward softcore porn? Crude exploitation? Trashy home invasion potboiler? Hard Candy-esque moral revenge fantasy? That Ana De Armas looks good in a blond dye job? Well I hate to break it to him but if it was any or all of the above, none of it works and this is just a hollow, misdirected, tasteless bit of pond scum trying to pass itself off as a thriller and I feel sorry for poor Keanu Reeves having to wade through the gauntlet of what has to be the worst film he’s ever graced his angelic presence with. He plays an upper middle class family man whose wife and kids go on a long weekend trip so he can stay home and get some work done. He’s keeping it mellow on a super rainy night until two unstable, whack-job gutter hoes (Ana De Armas and Lorenza Izzo) show up at his door under the pretence of being lost and insinuate their way into first his house, then his shower and eventually his bed, and you can guess where things spiral from there. These are two seriously disturbed, dangerous and fucked up individuals and both actresses are terrifically intense and deranged, while Reeves holds his end up nicely with a difficult role, the editing, photography, music and splashes of dark humour do what they can but to what purpose does the film work towards, and when it gets there, is it worth it? Not so much. If Roth has set out to convince us that the tables can be turned and men can be just as coerced, preyed upon, shamed and ruined by the other sex as women can by them then he’s somewhat succeeded in showing us a turn of events like that at a primal level, but any attempts at theme or subtext are buried or lost in translation and what could have been something of a message movie ends up simply being ‘two crazy bitches torturing Keanu Reeves for just over ninety minutes.’ There’s a haphazard attempt at *something* deeper involving words written on a mirror in lipstick and Armas going postal about something that seems like an event from her past but neither thread is explored or followed up on. I don’t even know whether to call this a missed opportunity or not because I can’t even tell if Roth set out trying to achieve anything of substance or just didn’t bother at all and deliberately aimed for below the audience’s belt. Also I didn’t buy that Keanu ‘John Wick’ Reeves could be physically outmatched to that extent by two college age chicks, but that’s the least of this film’s issues. There’s something to this idea on paper but it’s nowhere to be found in this film, which is simply an ugly, pointless fucking waste of time.

-Nate Hill

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