Taking a look at the IMDb reviews for Knock Knock; a remake of the 1977 film Death Game, there appears to be an unbridled hatred for this horror/thriller with Keanu Reeves as the victim in this female home invasion picture. There are a number of complaints that range from Keanu’s acting to the storyline.
The original film starred Sondra Locke (Clint Eastwood’s main “bit on the side” for years) and was released the year after her first starring role in an Eastwood film. The Outlaw Josie Wales. Death Game also starred Colleen Camp and Seymour Cassel who was the Reeves character in the film. Both women are producers on this updated remake of the first film.
Co-written and directed by gore-horror maestro Eli Roth, Knock Knock follows nice guy Evan’s trials and tribulations with two “teen” vixens who invade his home. His wife and two children are away, it is Father’s Day and he is alone.
Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bell (Ana de Armas) waste no time trotting out the sexual innuendos and then broach the subject bluntly and directly. 43 year old Evan does not stand a chance as his middle aged hormones kick in and he has sex with the two girls.
It is a trap.
The two young nymphs set poor Evan up and when he goes to call the police they reveal that they are underage. Threatening the husband and father with charges of statutory rape and prison, they rule the house.
Over the course of the night, Bell and Genesis murder someone, torture Evan and film him having sex with Bell who has real daddy issues. It is a game that they have played often and not one man has turned them down.
Some of the problems with this film have to do with its timing and the casting of Reeves as a successful but helpless victim. With the reinvention of Keanu as a man of action and all around tough nut, his hapless DJ floundering about while trying to escape is a bad fit.
Dialogue may also have contributed, along with the way it was delivered. Evan screaming out “You f**ked me” and “You’ll make me deaf,” were laughable. A sort of whiny accusatory “you started it” and a baseless fear that combined to make the victim a little detestable.
The bottom line is Evan knew that having sex with the girls was wrong. It was only afterward, when they pull out the underage card, that he admits it. His failure to call the police immediately may not have saved him, but it would have made the audience respect him a bit more.
It is hard to see just what is so reprehensible about the film. Surely feminists can get behind punishing those men who believe they can do what they want with women. Making Evan suffer for his cheating action must have pleased someone in the female camp.
Knock Knock may be the opposite of misogynistic, which is, in case there was any doubt, known as misandry, but in reality it goes much deeper than that.
The film is, at its core, a cautionary tale. One that warns of letting strangers into your home, no matter how attractive and friendly they are. Do not open your door to strangers. Having sex with someone who is not your wife is a no-no.
Beyond these apparent messages, and going back to the writing again, Reeves’ character is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Nor is he the most masculine. Evan flailing about for the gun, his baby knocks against the bookcase and being overpowered not once but repeatedly by the women in the house, makes him a disappointment.
Knock Knock may be an unsatisfying experience for many. However, if one views the film as the darkest of black comedies, it works. Director Eli Roth plants the seeds subtly.
“This is NOT a dream” is written on the bedroom mirror with lipstick. Later, in another scene, Genesis, the mirror scribe, wears a t-shirt with “It Is All a Dream” across the front.
To Evan, no doubt, this is not a dream but a nightmare, one that he will not wake up from. His actions will live on and on and on.
The final clue that this could be a blacker than black comedy is the final line spoken in the film. Evan’s son leans in and peeks at the shattered remains of the living room and says “Dad had a party.”
For whatever reason, there is a lot of hate for this film. Remembering the original Sondra Locke film, it also suffered from a lack of motive but reading reviews on the Internet comes off a little better. Although in this version the women have been, apparently, stalking Evan before hand. “Monster.”
Knock Knock is not a horrible film. It certainly does not deserve all the hate it has received. There are issues but overall all it still works, but only as a black comedy.
This one earns 3 stars, but only just, and is worth a look just to compare it to the original film. It is rated ‘R’ for violence, nudity and some simulated sex. The film is not one for the kiddies to watch. It is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu.