Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Knock Knock – review

Director: Tobias Canto Jr.

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

Not to be confused with the Keanu Reeves vehicle from a couple of years previous to the release of this, Knock Knock is a low to no budget with a huge amount of heart.

Is it perfect? Hell, no. But it is an example of the truism that being a budget film doesn’t have to make it bad. Decent characters, in this case, can carry it a long way. It is also a comedy, but one that celebrates the genre it spoofs rather than attacks it.

So, things start with a spoof advert for a psychic pizza company Pi-strodamous (if we can’t guess the topping before you tell us then you get 50% off) presented by Walter D Zaarke. Done in 80s style with really bad fake sideburns, well it really made me think that the feature was going to be poor. The gag, therefore, nearly backfired but was quickly forgotten as the film itself began (although the faux company is involved within the film).

Olivia and Sam
The film proper starts with bat sounds and a shot of the moon. We see Sam (Kerry Tartack) leave the late-night gym and walk across the deserted car park to his car. He’s trying to call his son but gets his voicemail. Sam was a boxer in his heyday, known as Stonefist. He’s sixty the next day and, it is apparent, estranged from his son. He’s reaching out, trying to make amends, suggesting meeting. His voicemail cuts off as he reaches his apartment, and he realises his front door is open. He knocks before entering.

the box
Inside he eventually finds his neighbour Olivia (Sisi Berry) who has an emergency key, she suggests it’s a surprise birthday meal and then asks him not to get mad. She says this is all about the creepy new neighbour (Lucas Alexander Ayoub) and admits that the mysterious box she has was delivered to his door and she’s taken it. Sam is not in the best moods, what with his birthday coming and the associated retrospection, but then another neighbour, a stoner called Dragon (Chuk Hell), bursts in and makes comments about the Dracula situation.

Neighbour and date
Olivia explains that they think the new neighbour is a vampire and they have supporting stories. Olivia saw him come in with a drunk woman (Jennifer Bennett) and thought something was off. She kept watch, despite having pulled a late shift. However keeping watch meant sitting behind her door, listening and occasionally looking through the spy hole. She, of course, fell asleep. Movement woke her and she saw him leaving, alone, with his date's red heels in hand. The date never emerged, she insists. Dragon tells a tale of getting stoned, ordering a garlic laden pizza and, whilst taking first bite at his door, the neighbour (next door and just about to go out) choking and not leaving his apartment. Only after Dragon had gone in to his apartment and shut the door does the neighbour leave – ripping a Chuck Norris poster on Dragon's door as he goes.

Rachel Atterson as Gretchen
Of course, Sam is not impressed with the stories. After all, looking at a similar plot set up, Charley Brewster at least saw meaningful things and no-one believed him – this film doesn’t mention Fright Night but the plot premise is comparable, at least for the initial set up. A third neighbour, Gretchen (Rachel Atterson), then arrives and Sam is disappointed that rational, scientific Gretchen seems to have bought into this. Her story is about a dog (which she disliked anyway) seeming to bark at the neighbour and then disappearing one night as wolves howled.

vampire killing kit
Gretchen has also brought research books, including Dracula. In her bag she also has Twilight. That’s actually for me, she confesses. Team Jacob all the way admits Dragon, using a gentle humour based on these characters rather than attack humour. Dragon has brought a hunting kit (a rucksack with a label saying Monster Squad, containing stakes and a steak (you never know), water pistols (that his drug dealer, the Reverend, has spat into) and protective gloves with crosses at the knuckles). Sam still isn’t convinced but they do open the stolen box and find an old bottle containing blood… And the neighbour wants it back…

monstrous form
The film is short at 55 minutes and the action is at the end. The filmmakers work around a lot of the lack of budget by limiting the shots of vampiric activity and whilst the monstrous form of the stranger is not the highest quality creature effect, by the time it appears you are invested and it hardly matters. Without wishing to spoil too far there is a lot more vampire action (and vampires) over the credits, with an even more minimalist approach to the filming. This is rather clever as the film could have had a section before credits but this allowed them more leeway than having the action in the body of the film. They manage to squeeze in a post-credit sequence too.

the gang
I was impressed. Whilst the acting varied in quality (with Sisi Berry and Kerry Tartack giving the most solid performances, for me) the characters really worked and the dialogue helped build them well. The short length meant it really didn’t outstay its welcome and the fact that the humour was gentle, self-effacing and whole genre positive was welcome. The photography was ok but nothing special and the budget showed in some of the effects. Nevertheless, this goes to prove you don’t need a budget to be funny or make a good film. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK


Pop Art Pictures said...

Hi there! My name is Toby and I'm the director of 'Knock Knock' (2017). I wanted to thank you for taking the time to watch our movie as well as give it your review! It was truly a labor of love for everyone involved and additionally for me, an ode to the monster movies I loved growing up. It's really exciting to see that people are watching the movie, especially in the UK! If it's ok with you, I'd like to post this review to our social media pages soon. Thank you for understanding the indie spirit behind this film and again for taking the time to watch 'Knock Knock'!! Cheers!!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Toby, thank you for the film. You can, of course, post the review ­čśü

Pop Art Pictures said...

Fantastic! Thanks again!!

Chuk Hell said...

Great review! Thanks for taking a look at our little film. It was truly a labor of love and we're all genre freaks. Cheers.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

no problem Chuck, thank you all for the film