Knock Knock (2015)

A pair of femme fatales wreak havoc on the life of a happily married man.

Directed by Eli Roth
Starring Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas
I love Keanu Reeves. There, I’ve said it. He doesn’t always make great career choices but on the whole, the man has done some great work. And here, you really have to remember that fact, as this is not his finest hour. At all.

Don’t get me wrong, the film itself is not that shabby, and whilst Eli Roth’s understanding of the subject is clearly limited to what appears to be cro-magnon sensibilities, this doesn’t make it any less entertaining and perhaps as viewers, we should be chided for maybe enjoying certain aspects of this depiction of male weakness possibly more than we really should.

Keanu Reeves plays Evan Webber, an architect and loving husband and father. Latterly, these facts are somewhat rammed down the throat of the viewer early on. Whether you’re buying into this or not is something else, of course. Roth’s heavy-handed direction in this regard is sometimes more than a little cringeworthy, to such an extent that you feel that even Reeves himself doesn’t think his own portrayal is believable. Lay it on thick, why don’t you, Eli.

Left alone one night, with his perfect family at the beach (or wherever), Evan is working dutifully at his computer, enjoying the apparently rare opportunity of playing his music (his real love) too loud, when their is an urgent and prevailing knock at the front door. Upon opening it, Evan discovers two pretty young women, bedraggled from the rain, helpless and looking to use his phone.

And it’s strangely not at this point that the alarm bells start ringing either for Evan or the audience. This event itself may not be that common, but neither that unusual, even for the cynical. Events then, however, speed apace and whether you buy into this plot actually even being possible, given not only Evan’s supposed previous approach to fidelity (judging by the decidedly unsubtle attempts by Roth to convince us of the fact, seemingly adorning all available wall space with evidence) but also Evan’s intelligence quotient apparently taking a back seat, allowing his little head to do his thinking for him, and to hell with the consequences. Cynics everywhere will be shaking their heads at the very notion that Roth would approach something so delicate with his usual sledgehammer style and it shows as the nuances that could well be employed are overlooked for clunky dialogue and, certainly on Reeves’ part, a healthy portion of overacting.

Ana De Armas and Lorenza Izzo are both beautiful creatures, to be sure, and if they set their minds to it, could turn most heterosexual men’s heads, however, this house invasion stretches credibility up to and beyond acceptable limits, reducing Evan to something so devoid of personal attributes as to be almost deserving of the treatment meted out by his captors. In order for this to happen, a very dim view needs to be taken of our lead, which Roth and Reeves do make it easy to do and the morality tale lurking underneath this salacious and voyeuristic project gets mostly lost.

Zipping by in under an hour and a half, you may think that this running time is criminally brief, but there is little to expand upon once the scene is set and the second half of the film becomes something of a labour to fill what is already a short feature by most of today’s standards. Hoping to gain more notoriety than it really deserves by turning the notion of sexual predators on its head, this is forgettable stuff for the most part, apart from the steady, painful decline in Reeves’ performance, which truly is a shame.

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