Saturday, 12 December 2015

Knock Knock (2015) - Movie Review

http://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.comEvery so often, the Hollywood scheduling system looks at the crap that gets screened and bestows a boon on the viewing public with a double feature from an acclaimed director. 2013 was an amazing year in this regard as we got not only two releases from David O. Russell with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, but also the ‘supposedly’ final two theatrical releases from Steven Soderbergh with Side Effects and Behind The Candelabra. But then, there are times when the scheduling results in a dual release from a… less reputable director. This is unfortunately a latter case as we are discussing another film by Eli Roth. I once again don’t want to completely badmouth his abilities as a director, as the guy definitely has talent in certain areas. However, his insistence on filming his own scripts is his biggest flaw; the guy has character sensibilities that make Mark Renton look like Oskar Schindler. For as much credit as I was willing to give his last film, it still makes me feel slightly ill thinking back on it. So, is this film as bad as that… or is it, by some terrifying miracle, even worse?

The plot: Married architect Evan (Keanu Reeves) is home alone while his wife (Ignacia Allamand) and children are on a family vacation that Evan couldn’t make it to because of a shoulder injury. That night, two girls Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas) arrive at his front door to seek shelter from the weather outside. Once inside, they proceed to seduce Evan who, despite his best attempts, succumbs to their charms. However, as their stay is prolonged further and further, it seems that the girls have something far more sinister in store for him.

I still concur that Keanu Reeves doesn’t get nearly as much recognition for his acting as he should; hell, how much everyone loved John Wick is proof positive that he isn’t as bad as the world has made him out to be. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good showcase of his abilities. His first scene where he is interacting with his family is hilariously awkward, with him trying to do the play-acting that parents often do around younger kids but coming across more like “I’m acting as hard as I can!” without a hint of irony. He gets a nice shouty moment near the end where he essentially calls these girls exactly what they are, but it isn’t nearly as hammy enough to justify sitting through the rest of the film to get to it. Aside from him, the family isn’t really in the movie long enough to be worthy of note, so that leaves us with the two main girls. Izzo and de Armas are decent actors, but they never come across as that much of a threat in the intimidating sense. They do portray teen girls pretty accurately, but then again, I’d mark that as a point against the film.

There is a special word that has a lot of power in the English language. It is easily one of the more controversial swears that exist and, while it is definitely used more frequently nowadays, it still holds some sway in showing utter contempt. I don’t swear on this blog as much as I probably should, given how much visceral hatred I have for some of the films I discuss on here, but every so often I feel a need to use more colourful language. This word in question is one I simply hate using because of how vulgar it is, but there is nothing else that fits in the following sentence. Genesis and Bel are two of the most irritating, pretentious Valley Girl cunts that I have had the misfortune to encounter all year, if not the last several years.

They have all of one note for the entire film, that of constant annoyance, and they never waver from that at any point during the film. I immediately retract any and all statements I made in the Green Inferno review about Eli Roth showing signs of improvement, as these two are the embodiment of every atrocious writing trope Roth has ever put into his movies. The traditional argument is that these characters are supposed to be loathsome, and while I congratulate Roth on that front, that doesn’t instantly make them watchable. I’ve talked before about the trend in horror films to make the main characters thoroughly unlikeable so that no tears are shed when bad things happen to them. Well, that applies to the main villains as well; it may provide an easy means to be against the bad guys, but that doesn’t mean that we will want to see them on screen for any length of time. Hell, the one likeable character in this mess, who acts like he has a brain in his head, is killed off in quite idiotic fashion after only a few moments of relief.

There might be a certain subtext that can be read into the film’s events, particularly about the reason why the girls targeted Evan in the first place. Maybe it’s trying to make commentary on the double standards between the sexes when it comes to sexual histories: Men can sleep around all they want, but women are shunned for doing the same thing. As such, this is meant to show how easy it is to paint men as being the sexual aggressors and women as the victims, regardless of what the reality is. Ignoring what kind of person it would take to feel the need to commentate on that in this fashion (hint: emotionally stunted man-child), this is just following the age-old stereotype that all men will accept whatever sex they are given. Basically, the same brain-rottingly stupid argument that is the reason why male rape is largely treated as a joke nowadays. Much like how Stephanie Meyer being a woman doesn’t excuse her for how misogynistic her writing is, Eli Roth being a man doesn’t excuse him for how misandristic this film is.

Even if this premise did hold any kind of water as some kind of satire, the amount of plot holes and just plain stupid character actions involved in the girls’ plan means that, in the real world, what actually took place would become public knowledge and evidence would prove that Evan was the victim. So, by film’s end, all of the incessantly exasperating dialogue, the torture scenes, the man rape (which at least isn’t meant to be taken as a joke… yay?); none of it amounts to anything. If there was an actual point to all of this, then maybe the contents could have been salvaged, but instead it just ends in a damp squib and a painfully forced attempt to end on a slightly humorous note. This might be the first time that I have felt the urge not to read deeper into a film; with how infuriating the surface is, I just don’t fucking care anymore.

All in all, this is nauseating in how vapid it is. The acting and writing show off every reason why someone should smack the keyboard out of Eli Roth’s hands, as it highlights his ‘talent’ for creating unfathomable vexatious characters who do unbelievably idiotic things, all under the guise of delivering a ‘point’. If you’re lucky enough to like Roth’s style of storytelling, then this should be just fine. If not, avoid like the vacuous skid mark that it is.

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