Eli Roth must have learned the meaning of the word “restraint” in between making the horrendous “Green Inferno” and the surprisingly entertaining “Knock, Knock”. I wasn’t bored once in this ridiculous ride.
“Knock, Knock” is an erotic thriller combined with a home invasion movie, starring Keanu Reeves as Evan. Evan is a likable and handsome family man who’s left alone for a weekend to work on his architecture project while his family is away at the beach. Evan soon meets two young damsels-in-distress named Genesis (Lorenza Izzo, Roth’s wife, who was also in this year’s “Green Inferno”) and Bel (Ana de Armas) who show up asking to use his phone. Evan quickly regrets being polite after they seduce him into a threesome and won’t leave.
Roth trades in his gore and juvenile humor trademarks for mind games and dark humor, proving he has some range. The mayhem doesn’t occur until the 50-minute mark, but even prior to that, “Knock, Knock” is still a surprisingly tense movie in the first half. We get to know Evan and both femme fatales in the first half, seeing that Evan is clearly putting on the nice guy act and misses his youthful days. Genesis and Bel see this in Evan and use it against him from the beginning.
Genesis and Bel are very innovative and twisted in screwing with Evan’s life and do the following – vandalize Evan’s home, smash his wife’s sculptures before her exhibit, trick him into thinking he’s a pedophile, steal his dog(the dog lives, FYI), and post a recorded sex tape between him and Bel on his Facebook.
All of this above gives the movie a dark comedy vibe in its execution, but the acting and dialogue give it an unintentionally slapstick tone. Reeves is on par with one of Nicolas Cage’s sillier performances here and yelling lines like, “DON’T DO IT, THEY’RE CRAZY,” and “YOU SUCKED MY ****! IT WAS LIKE FREE PIZZA,” earn unwanted laughs.
Roth still has a bad habit of writing homage scenes that come off like a hack job, including one very obvious homage to “Fight Club”. But I can forgive Roth’s absurdity due to his restraint and craftmanship with “Knock, Knock”. It’s definitely a well-made guilty pleasure.