Don’t Knock Twice
It’s often been said that horror films are the best place to locate commonplace fears and anxieties surrounding technology. Televisions produced Poltergeist, video cameras Paranormal Activity, the internet Unfriended. And now, one movie has decided to take on the greatest horror of all: doors. Sure, a door doesn’t sound all that scary; it’s just a barrier separating one room from another. But aside from their tendency to creak, isn’t there something rather unnerving about hearing a knock emanating from across the house? For a brief moment, there’s no telling whether one is about to meet a postman, a serial killer, or – God forbid – a Jehovah’s witness.
To give Don’t Knock Twice its due, it does a few interesting things with this basic idea before squandering its potential with clunky logic and outright silliness. Teenagers Danny (Jordan Bolger) and Chloe (Lucy Boynton) spot a group of children playing “Knock Down Ginger” one night, which leads them – somehow – to seek out an old, abandoned house by the motorway. They each tap on the door twice, only to find no one’s home. What a shame. Yet later that night, Danny hears a knock at his own door and, in a genuinely trippy, terrifying scene, succumbs to a mysterious spirit.
After seeing visions herself, Chloe runs away to hide with Jess (Katie Sackhoff), her estranged mother whom she hasn’t forgiven for abandoning her at childhood – leading to a film that, much like The Babadook and The Orphanage, divides its time between fractured family drama and spooky set pieces. For a while, there’s a lot to like: Caradog W James combines inventive camerawork with atmospheric lighting to compensate for an often weak script, and conjures up some memorable images, such as a gangly demon emerging from beneath a bed, or a dream world scattered with beams of light. And Sackhoff, best known as Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck, tries her very best to inject gravitas into her role, and often succeeds.
Yet the film is scuppered by some egregious lapses in logic – the “monster” can enter a room regardless of whether the victim answers the door or not, so why bother even knocking – some poor acting, and an unforgivable ending that seems to reveal just how short-sighted the entire project was in the first place. It’s a shame, because ambitious independent horror should almost always be celebrated; but Don’t Knock Twice is, unfortunately, just another unwelcome visitor.
Don’t Knock Twice is released in selected cinemas on 31st March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Knock Twice here: