Female Empowerment meets Keanu Reeves
Eli Roth as a director has never been one that tickled my fancy. I have seen quite a few of his films including Cabin Fever and Hostel but honestly never really found any of them particularly interesting nor scary. When walking into Knock Knock, I was really hoping for something different from Roth and hoping to finally see something that would really wow me unlike Roth’s previous outings.
In Knock Knock, Keanu Reeves plays Evan Webber, an architect with a lovely wife and two great kids. For Father’s Day weekend, Evan is forced to miss out on his family’s trip to the beach because he needs to catch up on work. His family leaves that morning while Evan spends most of his day and night working and jamming to some of his favorite tunes on vinyl. At around 1am, Evan hears a knock on the door and like all stories like this, he answers. To his surprise, Evan finds two beautiful women on his doorstep claiming to be lost. Trying to be the nice guy that he is, Evan invites Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas) in to let them use a computer and help them get an Uber so that they can be on their way. Unfortunately for Evan, these girls have more in store for Evan as they soon unleash their devious plan that will ultimately change his life forever.
I have to be honest, I was really looking forward to Knock Knock simply because the plot intrigued me and it was something very different for both Roth and Reeves. I attempted to get into every screening for the film while at Sundance but failed to do so until the film’s final screening which also happened to be my last day at the festival. I wish I could say that Knock Knock ended my festival on a high note, but sadly I can’t say that, not even one bit.
Somewhere in Knock Knock there is a good film but it all goes missing very early on with bad acting, a sloppy script, and two attractive leads trying way too hard to be sexy for no reason at all. The result is something that wishes it was the next Fatal Attraction or Funny Games or The Strangers but isn’t nearly as smart of clever as it thinks it is.
I can totally appreciate a film that dives into the male fantasy and show how even the “good guy” can get caught up in the seduction. The problem, is not the idea itself here, but rather Roth’s entire execution of the idea and what he tries so hard to do with the material at hand. As an audience member, I thought it was pretty clear from about 20 minutes in these women were playing to screw with Evan, both mentally and physically. This begins the problem because Roth keeps this idea going and does so in such a mean-spirited and unbelievable manor.
The whole setup before the actual three-some occurs is beyond stupid and just feels way too far fetched to be even remotely believable. I can totally buy the idea of the “nice guy” letting two ladies into his home to use the phone or computer, but I can’t buy the idea of him letting them strip naked and walk around his house in bathrobes for 45 minutes. What is even worse is that the girls keep talking about sex and Evan at this point obviously knows their agenda yet still keeps buying into the conversation.
Once the threesome does happen, Evan wakes up the next morning expecting the ladies to be gone but sure enough Genesis and Bel are in his kitchen making breakfast. However, it isn’t until Evan gets a call from his wife and see’s the women joking about sexual positions that he becomes truly fed-up with the situation and asks them to leave but as expected, they refuse. The next 60-70 minutes is all about Genesis and Bel playing with Evan’s mind and destroying everything in his house and his life. There are multiple subplots here including a murder and being a pedophile but none of them seem necessary and instead are just pointless filler.
The reasons for Genesis and Bel’s actions seem far too simplistic even though they clearly like being in control. The film ends with everything being left open to interpretation. We don’t know what happens to Evan and his family. The problem, however, is that I just didn’t care at that point. I was just so baffled by how stupid and simplistic the plot was that when the film finally ended, the only question I had for myself was “why the hell didn’t I walk out of the film when I checked my phone at the 45-minute mark?”
There are just so many issues with Knock Knock that I just don’t know where to begin. Roth and his two buddies Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás López try so hard to be edgy and show this fake vision of female empowerment. The film belittles these women by turning them into sluts. There is one thing to be seductive to prove a point, but like almost everything else in this film it goes too far. We as audience members can clearly see that these women are attractive; we don’t need to be constantly reminded of that.
Roth continues this notion by having Genesis and Bel constantly changing into sexier and more revealing clothing throughout the film. At one point, Bel puts on Evan’s daughter’s schoolgirl uniform and Roth adds in the whole father/daughter fantasy. We already had the three-some fantasy; did we really need another one in there? What made this aspect even worse is that once this element was introduced, Bel just kept calling Evan daddy for the rest of the film.
Out of the two female leads, Lorenza Izzo is clearly the better and I guess I can say gave a more sadistic and complex performance in comparison to Ana de Armas. The character Genesis at least showcased some believable rage despite the lack of explanation for her actions. Bel, on the other hand, is more or less the hot sexy blonde with daddy fetish or daddy issues. Her schtick gets old really fast and I quickly got annoyed with her character and annoying accent.
As for Keanu Reeves, this has to be some of the worst acting that I have ever seen from this man which is saying a lot. We all know that Reeves isn’t a great actor but he can be decent with the right director and script. I think several audience members couldn’t help but laugh every time Reeves opened his mouth. I knew from about 5 minutes in when Reeves did his whole “ I am a monster” act that this was going to be one of his worst performances, if not the absolute worst of his career.
Knock Knock tries so hard to be a story of strong females that set out to prove a point that all men are pigs and give into their fantasies. The idea is if any man is presented with two hot women they will go for it as long as they won’t get caught. You can also say that the film makes these two beautiful women into objects of every man’s desire. What the film fails to do repeatedly though is make these women into good anti-heroes or even a tad bit likable in the end.
All in all, Knock Knock is a hollow and pointless film. It is like a porn fantasy gone wrong and has as much depth as one. This could have been a great tale of seduction and manipulation if only someone only cared enough to rely more on a solid premise than T&A. There is no rhyme or reason for most of which that happens in this film nor is there any sort explanation. There are so many things that happened throughout the film that are left unanswered and cant be overlooked. The acting by Reeves is the worst that I have seen in years and the two females just make snarky comments and do sexy things. This isn’t just a bad film but instead one that doesn’t deserve to see the light of day like Roth’s other doomed project, The Green Inferno. If I wanted to see a twisted porn fantasy, I would watch torture porn and not something where Keanu Reeves is tied to a chair and screaming about pizza.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Knock Knock is a 1 out of 10.