‘Knock Knock’: Roth’s New Film is Door You Want To Answer


One Night Can Cost You Everything


Evan had everything. A beautiful home, an adoring wife and kids, and employment as an architect. A life that truly fulfills him. When his family leaves for a little fun in the sun, Evan has the whole house to himself. But when he’s paid a visit by two strangely sexy girls, who seem closer than sisters and all the more innocent, Evan’s night becomes a little less lonely. Only he’s just looking for company and he’s happily married. But Evan hasn’t gotten any for a while, and he’s about to make a mistake only death may get him out of. Welcome to Knock Knock.


I remember hearing about Knock Knock after the slew of let downs regarding Roth’s much delayed The Green Inferno. I had waited diligently for Roth, who I once touted as the next Wes Craven (big comparison no doubt, but I stand by it), to direct a new film and that film was being held up in movie jail. After the Inferno debacle- waiting a year to see it and being extremely let down after actually seeing the crap film set in the Amazon- I waited patiently to see if Knock Knock would be a true return to form for the filmmaker. Good news for us fright fans, Roth’s newest film is proof he’s getting his gory grove back. So let’s all renew our wedding vows, tuck our kids into bed, and erect a faltering house of cards as I review the 2015 home invasion horror show, Eli Roth’s Knock Knock.

I like building up the anticipation-Evan Webber


The acting in Knock Knock is like the syrup from a big stack of Sunday morning pancakes; it simply wouldn’t be the same without it. Let’s talk about the tastier bits you hungry horror heads.

Keanu Reeves stars in Knock Knock. Playing protagonist Evan, a wholly (or so it seemed) devoted family man, Reaves proves why he’s still Neo outside of The Matrix as well. Having recently made a comeback in John Wick, 2014’s extremely stylized shoot’em up directed by Chad Stahelski, Reeves here is cast to showcase his strengths. The man’s good at a very certain type of understated, and overlooked, kind of character. I’ve heard some reviewers say Reeves was miscast due to his likability. I say no to their notions of Neo. It’s Reeves’ likability that strengthens the narrative – he’s cast perfectly – and I imagine it’s something Director Roth knew well.

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Lorenza Izzo also is well cast in Knock Knock. Turning in vastly more accomplished work than in her husband’s previous effort The Green Inferno, the actress is electric here. Swapping protagonist for antagonist, Izzo eats scenes up like a bum at a buffet in Roth’s newest outing. She’s clearly having the time of her life in the skin of Genesis (maybe her name should have tipped old Evan off) and I enjoyed her insanity.

Then there is the adorable Ana de Armas, playing the cheeky and crazy Bel. She, like Izzo, is shredding scenery in Knock Knock. She has a lot to do in the film, and must go to a crazy place to get there, but the actress was more than up for the job and turns in work to be proud of in Roth’s latest endeavor. (B-)


Eli Roth directs Knock Knock with purpose and drive. Unlike the majority of The Green Inferno, moments of Knock Knock shows some sort of directorial competency. Roth uses the camera to amplify his story here. Whereas he used the camera to simply film Inferno’s script, the camera builds the narrative’s atmosphere perfectly Knock Knock .

While the film lacks composition and cinematic language, the film is proficient in camera movement. Roth, who directed two of this writer’s all-time favorites in 2003’s cannibalistic camp tale Cabin Fever and 2006’s Slovakian slaughter story Hostel (as well as the best of the faux trailers for Rodriguez/ Tarantino’s 2007 exploitation-cinema homage Grindhouse titled Thanksgiving), uses the long take to set up his atmospheric setting. Roth intelligently knows his stories (for the most part), and knew the twisted happenings of Knock Knock would be most poignant if he stylized Evan’s pre-adulterous life.

The move opens with long takes showing us the quaint life of Evan’s family and their supposed perfect existence. There’s a shot early in the film tracking down the hall of the Webber home showcasing the home almost as a metaphor for the family’s happiness. Not only on a visual level does this work, it provides a great backdrop for the narrative. Roth wanted to show us what exactly Evan was giving up for his night of fun; look for an identical yet parallel shot in the film’s conclusion to highlight Roth directorial prowess. In fact, there’s a few long, high disciplined, tracking shots that caused me to Knock Knock on cinematic wood. (B-)

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Eli Roth’s script, Knock Knock, is a resounding punch in the gut and rings like the loudest of door bells. Co-scripted by Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolas Lopez, Knock Knock features a solid first and second act, and the script leans on what most of us fear: the quick tarnish of long perfection.

You see, Evan is almost too perfect. He’s an amazing father, and loves his family more than Jason Seaver. Only, he’s about to make a mistake that might make his life unravel for eternity. It’s something we all struggle with. Some fruits of life can be tempting, but mostly should be left. Giving in to the easy makes life hard and I enjoyed being reminded of this in the confines of a horrific home invasion flick.

As for the narrative, the film paces itself quickly. The girls are at the Webber door (I wonder if they also have a Webber grill. These are the questions) in no time and the script doesn’t beat us over the head with establishing the “good” guy nature of Evan. Once the girls get there, the fun really begins.

The second act is the film’s strongest by far. It’s not only the quickest paced, but also executes its intentions before the repetitive nature of the third act.

Whereas he used the camera simply film Inferno’s script, camera builds the narrative’s atmosphere perfectly

Sadly, the third act slightly damages the piece. The acting takes a hit from a few outlandish situations, and the narrative begins to feel repetitive. There’s set up, with all intentions to make Evan squirm for his sexual sins, and then no plot progression from it. Then again, it works on a sadistically hilarious level and could be argued to be adding to the film’s black comedy. On that side of things, I don’t mind it. In fact, with the ending fresh in my mind, it does. Depends on your appetite Deadites; it doesn’t hurt the plotting enough to waste. (C)


Eli Roth’s Knock Knock is much closer to form for the filmmaker his The Green Inferno. It’s a well directed film that features some good performances and a decent script. While not entirely perfect, it’s a sadistically good time if you allow the film to do what it’s attempting. I recommend the film to anyone who was disappointed by Roth’s Amazonian adventure and to everyone who is looking for a nice diversion in the month of orange. Just lock that door tight, and only help those willing to not make you their next  little entertaining project. Deadites, you’ve been informed