Knock Knock

Director: Eli Roth (2015)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas
Find it: IMDB

Knock knock. Who's there? Why, an Eli Roth film that doesn't massively annoy or largely disappoint, hopefully. No such luck with this one, which mostly manages to sidestep the latter (my expectations for Roth being fairly low at this point) but delivers on the former in spades. It's a Keanu Reeves horror film though! And for that, it deserves a look-in, at least.

Reeves plays loving dad and devoted husband Evan Webber, an American one-percenter with a house almost as beautiful as his wife and kids. Staying at home to work while said family take off to the beach for the weekend, Evan settles in for the night with only his old rock music, weed (it is an Eli Roth joint after all) and dog for company. And then there's a knock at the door...

It's here where Knock Knock is at its most fun - the bashful, confused but tempted family man battling against the attentions of two nubile damsels, both of whom seem uttery determined to do the dirty with the dim dad. It plays like a hilarious game of cat and mouse; a sexy farce in which Keanu keeps leaping out of seats, changing the subject and desperately trying to keep his cock in his undies while two very young, very beautiful young ladies offer him 'free pizza' on a silver platter. Keanu's words, not mine. Talking of Keanu's words: how much did Uber pay Eli Roth to get him to have Evan declare the taxi service 'the only reliable way to travel'?

Where it all dives into familiar tedium is after the deed is done, when Roth's horror inclinations are allowed to come out to play. What follows is like a cross between Hard Candy*, Fatal Attraction, Funny Games* and Sheri Moon Zombie's performance in House of 1000 Corpses*, intensified double via Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas. Trashing the house, drawing gigantic hairy boners on his wife's fancy artwork (alright, that did make me laugh) and acting like shrieking snot children, the duo give two of the most annoying performances I've seen in a horror film in years. Which would sort of be the point, I guess, so well done.

Which is more than we can say for Keanu, who is surprisingly bad at times. Fair play to the man for following up the wonderful John Wick with a film in which he plays a victimised idiot who spends almost the entirety of the second half tied to a chair, helpless and ridiculed. This he does gamely enough, but there's nothing about his performance which couldn't have been replicated by any number of less famous, lesser-paid actors. His presence is a gimmick - a gimmick which works well, but a gimmick nonetheless.

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Keanu who?
Keanooooooo, not my ears!

Shorn of the expectation that comes with his enormously delayed Green Inferno*, this understated home invasion piece is short and sharp enough that it's hard to get into a tizz. Besides, it is pretty effective in its constant ratcheting of the tension, and admirably inventive in torturing poor Keanu. Like everything Roth has done so far, it has a tendency to go overboard, but it's worth a look at least. Even better, it finishes on one of the best laughs I've had from a horror film in years.

Knock Knock isn't a terrible film by any stretch, but it is Uber annoying.

*Which I also found to be tremendously irritating.

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