MAY 9, 2008
Never heard of Knock Knock until no less an authority than Uncle Creepy told me that I would enjoy it, as it was up my alley (being a slasher movie and all) and featured hilarious Italian stereotypes. Rather than wait for the increasingly unreliable Blockbuster Online to send it (most of my top 10 movies are either long wait, or simply just not sent), I picked it up at the store so I could bask in the glow of its apparent greatness.
And surprise, it really ain’t all that bad at all. It’s incredibly well shot (on film, hurrah!), though a better editor would be helpful (in addition to some annoying strobe edits, it’s also a very dirty print – lots of blue light lines and large specs of dirt). With one major exception, the no-name cast is also pretty good, another rarity for these things. The one exception is sadly the closest thing the movie has to a female lead, Kim Taggart. She looks like Ann Coulter playing a cop, and her delivery for everything from simple greetings to large chunks of exposition is uniformly terrible.
Sadly the story isn’t very original, or, at all. It’s yet another “prank goes wrong/deformed killer goes after the kids of the people who did him wrong” movie. Slight bonus points for not making it a whodunit (there are like 3 characters with the same bushy dark hair as the killer, throwing you off track), but I wish writer/director Joe Ariola (who gives himself two credits at the beginning and one at the end – douchebag) could have come up with something that took more effort than seeing a DVD of The Burning next to one for Nightmare on Elm St and going “Hey wait a minute...”
One thing that was impressive was how brutal the kills were. No one gets merely stabbed or their throat slashed. This guy fucking EVISCERATES every victim. Guts hanging out, limps hacked off... it’s nuts. It’s also well done; none of it looks fake, particularly the scene where a guy’s leg is cut off around the knee. Sadly, the impact of the kills is blunted by the editor’s (or maybe Ariola’s) insistence on strobe editing/Avid farting these sequences to death, not to mention overlapping duplicate audio (and occasional footage). Sometimes, you know, less IS more. Had the scenes not been drawn out so we could leave absolutely nothing to the imagination, the film would be 5-10 minutes shorter.
The movie also contains one of my favorite slasher scenes in recent history. One of our group (and group is a bit of an overstatement, after 20 minutes we never see a single one of these kids unless they are about to be killed, nor do they ever hang out with each other again) is walking down the street, singing to himself with his teeth guard (he’s a football player) still in his mouth for some reason. So he’s just going “mush mumble rawr flar gwar” and then all of a sudden the killer jumps out and begins stabbing the shit out of him. It’s fucking hilarious. And it’s a common theme in the film, the killer coming out of nowhere. I think there were only two scenes in the film that showed the killer doing any sort of stalking; usually he just jumps out without any build up or suspense. Usually I hate this, yet it sort of worked for this particular movie. And I’m actually glad that the kids never really interacted after the first 20 minutes, because all they did was mock one another, even after one of their friends died. You know, I mock my friends a lot too, but I also occasionally, like, SAY THINGS to them.
In my notes I have written “Dom/Boot/Shop”. It took me a while to remember what the Christ it meant, but then I remembered – it’s short for “domestic violence, bootleggers, and shoplifters”. At one point, the horrid female detective woman says that her previous cases were primarily those three crimes, “and usually the same people.” What kind of person is a bootlegger AND a shoplifter who beats his wife? “My wife got pissed that I stole a spindle of DVD-Rs, so I punched her in the face.”
Sadly, Ariola was too busy making sure his name was listed 3495 times in the credits to record a commentary, but there are four featurettes concerning different areas of the production such as sound/music and the special FX make-up (Ariola is missing from these as well – he’s the Terence Malick of indie horror). Hardly groundbreaking, but like the movie itself, they are reasonably entertaining anyway. And also like the movie, it features pointless duplication – the composer is introduced twice over a 40 second span. I like when the features have thematic ties to the film itself.
What say you?