DON’T KNOCK TWICE

4 out of 10

Release date: 31st March 2017

Director: Caradog W James (The Machine (2014))

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Pooneh Hajimohammedi, Richard Mylan, Jordan Bolger, Ania Marson with Javier Botet, and Nick Moran

Writer: Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler

Trailer: DON’T KNOCK TWICE

Review below by Matt ‘likes knockers’ Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Katee Sackhoff: Oculus, Riddick, The Haunting In Connecticut 2, 24 (TV), Battlestar Galactica (TV), Bionic Woman (TV), White Noise 2, Halloween Resurrection
  • Lucy Boynton: Sing Street, Miss Potter
  • Pooneh Hajimohammedi: The Machine (2014)
  • Richard Mylan: Waterloo Road (TV), Doctors (TV), Where The Heart Is (TV), Bad Girls (TV), The Bill (TV)
  • Jordan Bolger: The Habit of Beauty, iBoy, Peaky Blinders (TV)
  • Javier Botet: Insidious 4, It, The Other Side of the Door, Rec 4, Mama, Rec 3, Rec 2, Rec
  • Nick Moran: The Habit of Beauty, Terminal, London Heist, Eat Local, My Name is LennyAge of Kill, Down Dog, Death (2014)St George’s DayThe Kid (2010) (dir), Goal 3, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt 1 & 2, Telstar (dir), The Baby Juice Express, Puritan, The Musketeer, Another Life, Rancid Aluminium, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
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One thought on “DON’T KNOCK TWICE

  1. REVIEW BY MATT USHER 🙂

    I’ve just realised the title makes no sense. The conceit of this film revolves around the activity sometimes known as knock-down ginger. But surely in that disreputable past-time you wouldn’t knock twice anyway, so this (as it turns out very good) advice is nonsensical. Elsewhere in Pedants’ Film Club I’ll be discussing the grammatical implications of DIE HARDER.

    Meanwhile, DON’T KNOCK TWICE is an entertaining enough bit of nonsense, so long as you don’t take it seriously, or think too much about it. Things start eerily enough: the camera lingers initially on nervous fingernails, then settles on an ashen-white face with hollow, empty eyes. Unfortunately this absolutely terrifying is actually the film’s heroine, played by Katee Sackhoff, easily Hollywood’s scariest looking leading actress since the second heydays of Davis and Crawford. (Honestly, I think that works out as a compliment.)

    It turns out that, rather than being the evil villain of the piece, she’s Jess, a rich American sculptor, living in palatial splendour in the Welsh countryside, married to a banker (Richard Mylan on block-of-wood acting duty alas) and who is anxious to renew contact with Chloe, her estranged daughter (Joanna Boynton) who dwells in a home for children/teenagers/adolescents/twentysomethings of indeterminate age. But Chloe isn’t interested in spending time with her once-drug-addicted mom and wants to spend time instead with Danny a no-doubt drug-addicted teenage ne’er-do-well, or possibly just a nice lad – it’s difficult to tell as he’s the first to die. His death is triggered after he and Chloe foolishly, and for old times’ sake, knock on the door of a now-derelict (or is it?) house where there once dwelled a child-murdering demon witch lady (or possibly just an old lady who was being tormented by kids forever knocking on her door and running away).

    After Danny gets gobbled up by a ghostly demon witch thing, and further terrified by weird events in a communal kitchen involving a pair of arms spookily waving about in a sink full of blood, Chloe turns to her mom. Fortunately Jess lives in a small-scale mansion, the sort of country house which is absolutely perfect for Wodehouse comedies, Marple murder mysteries, and haunted house horrors. Even better, we find her sculpting (not particularly interesting) Madonna and child sculptures. The two models she uses for her uninspired work are (a) a scene-stealing baby who acts everyone else off the screen and (b) a mysterious woman with a general-purpose middle/eastern-European accent who also (it later transpires) is, like all middle/eastern-European women, an expert on folk legends about child-eating demons/witches/etc.

    Alas, Chloe and Jess don’t really hit it off, and before you know it, the witch/ghost/demon is chasing poor cursed Chloe all over the house, bumping into things, breaking Jess’s sculptures (so it’s got some taste), and putting bleeding teeth into the soup. It takes a little while for Jess to be convinced that supernatural weirdness is going on, but her husband skedaddles almost immediately using the pretext of a business trip, as he has no useful part to play in the plot (or does he?). (No.)

    Jess starts dreaming about suicidal old women/witch/demons, and the mysterious middle/eastern-European pops up again in order to be a bit enigmatic. Also popping up is Nick Moran, playing a policeman, who may or may not be the villain of the piece. He spends his time casting aspersion and staring moodily into every middle distance he can find.

    Meanwhile Chloe and Jess start investigating witches and stuff, then, after someone pops a scarf onto a garden ornament of a deer, they get chased around a bit by the ghost, but still manage to find time to (a) bond, and (b) unravel the true facts of the case. It all relates to a little boy from the children’s home who may or may not have been abducted by the dead old lady who may or may not be the scary ghost person. Logic flees from the story, Chloe falls down a pub cellar hatch and everything winds up in what appears to be a corner of Middle-Earth.

    Where DON’T KNOCK TWICE is at its best is in its jump scares. Maybe I’m getting more susceptible as I get older, but even when they’re properly signposted (or deliberately not signposted, which is sort-of the same thing) the sudden appearance of the ghoul does deliver the appropriate shock. What the film doesn’t do is leave that shock with you. There is nothing in the story to leave you with any after-fright. It’s not a film which makes you nervous about turning off the lights.

    The film is surprisingly well-made (though I thin I was expecting a home-made effort, which this definitely isn’t) and looks good, for the most part. The actors are generally good enough, though there’s a bit where Moran and Sackhoff have to start talking straight to camera which I think is meant to be really intense and confessional, but instead makes it look like neither actor has ever acted before. The acting is full of all the appropriate clichés (which is fair enough as the film is constructed 100% out of cliché). There’s lots of meaningful staring (Boynton rarely blinks – it’s as if she thinks she’s in an episode of Doctor Who), nobody behaves like real humans do. And there’s even attention to detail: mother and daughter share a love of colourful and would-be iconically designed tops and tee-shirts (though I’m not sure if it was Mick Jagger, Tony Blair or Mary Bell on one of them). There’s probably some sort of symbolism to them (there’s a tiger, slogans including Sucker and Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, some record covers, rude finger gestures, the Ramones, the phrase Over the Mountains) but I can’t be bothered to sift the meaning.

    If you’re looking for a passable time-wasting horror about estranged relatives and spooky child-abducting weirdoes/policemen/witches/mystics, with lots of jumps but without any semblance of story logic then this fits the bill efficiently enough without doing anything particularly interesting. Forgettable but fun.

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