Sunday, January 22, 2017
Don't Knock Twice (2017)
DIRECTOR: Caradog W. James
Chloe, a teenage girl, and her boyfriend Danny decide to test out an old, local urban legend. There is an abandoned house by the overpass that is said to be haunted by a witch named Mary Aminov. It's said that if you knock twice on the door, Mary Aminov will come for you. Chloe is one of those who believes the legend as she thinks that a childhood friend was taken by Mary. When the witch takes her boyfriend Danny, she must band together with her estranged mother and try and escape the clutches of this vengeful spirit.
I remember when I saw the first poster for Don't Knock Twice. My immediate thought was that the director of this film was apparently a fan of House (1986). Either that or the marketing team for Don't Knock Twice thought they were being incredibly original. The demonic hand holding the door knocker appeared very familiar. As someone who grew up loving the movie House and seeing this poster. I had automatically brushed it off and jumped on the bandwagon of this film is a ripoff, and my anticipation for the film had all but soured.
When the trailer for the film dropped, my opinion didn't change. In fact, my opinion probably got a lot worse. I think hearing the trailer use a soundbite from The Grudge was the last straw. I just assumed this would be another low-budget, supernatural, ghost story that wasn't very original and chose to steal moments from better films. I know it's hard these days to find a unique movie that deals with the supernatural, but when you are copying from other movies on your marketing material before the film is even out, it sort of loses all appeal.
I had promised my readers this year that it was going to be the year of the seventies and eighties slasher retrospective and current 2017 films. So seeing that this movie had a release in 2017, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a watch. After watching Don't Knock Twice, I was left surprised. I actually really enjoyed the film. Overall, I was never once bored while watching Don't Knock Twice and it had a lot of genuinely creepy moments to keep me on edge. Don't judge a movie by its cover it seems.
When the movie first started, I found myself not really connecting with the character of Chloe. She's that bratty teenage girl who treats her estranged mother like crap. All because her mother gave her up as a baby when she had a drug problem. So instead of trying to understand her mother's actions, she continually fights her on everything. This was quite grating during the first half of the film. If my mother were a junkie and thought I'd have a much better life, I'd want to be given up as well. It's just a shame that Chloe couldn't get this through her head.
It needs to be said that Katee Sackhoff as the estranged mother Jess is pretty damn fantastic in this movie. I haven't seen her in much other than Oculus, but here she is front and centre and delivers a brilliant performance. I was with her character every single step of the way. Katee has this ability to just deliver heartbreaking emotion in a single glance. There doesn't even have to be any sort of dialogue, and she still gets the point across. I think she absolutely killed it in this film.
I found that Don't Knock Twice has an excellent build up towards its pretty dark final. The film doesn't really stop when trying to deliver on the tension or suspense. I think the movie successfully gave me enough dread to keep me entertained throughout the entire film. I think early on; it reminded me of Lights Out in a way. The evil witch only attacks in darkness. She also has that shaggy-haired shadow look to her. There is this bedroom attack scene and a scene involving a sink that felt incredibly similar to The Grudge. I complained earlier in my review about this being a factor that annoyed me about the marketing, but in the context of the film, it's actually quite creepy if not a tad familiar to those two films.
I think the fractured relationship between mother and daughter adds a lot of tension to the movie. I found myself in the early stages of the film not really connecting or warming to Chloe with the way she ends up treating Jess. I think as the movie goes on, Jess is continuously in protective mother mode and I began wanting to see Jess and Chloe escape the demonic witch. I think the fractured relationship between both of the characters also lends the film it's most heart, and it's great to watch the two actresses try and fight for survival.
Lastly, I need to talk about the ending of Don't Knock Twice. I think the final will piss off a lot of people and be one of those endings that will probably kill the vibe of the film for them. For me, the conclusion doesn't exactly destroy all that came before it, but it certainly doesn't feel like a neatly wrapped up story. The ending is probably the film's biggest problem. It feels rushed for some reason. We get almost no explanation as to how one of the characters was initially cursed. So we are left to just assume the curse needs to be passed on so they can escape it. I had a lot of fun up until the end which loses the film some points. Still, you must witness this just to see a child being devoured towards the end, it's quite a grisly moment.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone is dragged off by a demon on webcam.
- Bloody water pours out of a tap.
- Bloody teeth are found in soup.
- Someone cuts their own throat.
- Someone cuts their head when thrown into glass.
- A woman steps on a nail.
- A woman uses blood from a wound to summon a demon.
- A child is seen being consumed by a demon.
- A man is consumed by blood.
Don't Knock Twice is a film that I went into with a lot of hesitation. From the dodgy marketing to the trailer. I decided to give it a go and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. The first hour and twenty minutes are incredibly solid. There was enough tension and suspense within the film to have me on the edge of my seat. The score is creepy, and the lead performance from Katee Sackhoff is fantastic. Sadly, the ending will make or break the film for people. It feels rushed and leaves the audiences with questions. For me, I found that the conclusion to be the films most significant problem, but it's not enough to kill the overall experience.