FEBRUARY 8, 2013
I will give Knock Knock 2 one thing: it doesn't betray the rules of found footage/mock doc movies as much as Greystone Park, this week's OTHER haunted house/POV entry. There's some "Why would they film this?" stuff, but a huge chunk of it feels like the sort of thing anyone would capture if they were fiddling with a camera on a long car ride or while daring a friend to enter a "haunted" house, and I also liked how the GPS was practically a character; that bitchy British woman often drowned out the dialogue of the characters, making it feel very "real" and human. And you can see everything, which also makes it a far less frustrating experience to watch - there are a lot of out of focus shots, but I never had to wonder if a bulb had burned out on my screen. So that's something.
But Greystone has one thing over this: it was never as crushingly boring as this one is from start to finish. The basic plot is fine: a group of college kids decide to spend a night visiting the sites of notorious Hollywood crimes: where the Black Dahlia was found, the house where Sharon Tate was murdered, etc. And then of course they get to a made-up story, about a couple that bought a new house and then the husband began to get paranoid and abusive, ending in tragedy - and that house, unlike the other locations, is unoccupied and accessible. The problem is, they get there just past the halfway point of the movie, and after arguing about whether or not to go in for like 5 minutes, they finally do... and then almost nothing happens for the rest. The remaining 35 minutes or so (not counting credits) just has them getting trapped in the boarded up house almost instantly and then trying to find a way out. If you like scenes of people trying to pry boards off of windows (or just kick at them), you'll probably really dig this stuff, but personally I found it a bit repetitive, and certainly not something I should be looking at in the movie's 3rd act - the "OK we have exhausted all logical ways of escaping, what next?" stuff should be in the first half of this sort of movie. It'd be like if the last reel of Die Hard was when McClane decided to try having the fire department come.
Oh, and (spoiler?) it's never clear what happens to any of them. I know one can level the same complaint at Blair Witch, but we at least know who the villain was and have a good idea of its plan - Josh was taken, and under duress (or some supernatural process) he called for help to lead Heather and Mike to the house. Mike was put in the corner a la Rustin Parr's victims while Heather was killed, and the camera is knocked to the floor before we see Mike's fate. It's creepy, and more importantly it's coherent(ish) and ties into the things about the back-story that have been established. Here, two characters are just dragged off frame and disappear forever, one girl just vanishes (we guess) while behind a locked door, and the other is still laying on the floor unconscious when the camera inexplicably switches to a traditional establishing shot of the house. Post-credits text (why its buried AFTER the crew and everything is beyond me - don't they know only like 10% of the audience watches the credits? Hell, Netflix actively tries to STOP you from doing so) tell us that their bodies were never found (before giving us laughable obituaries for each of the four characters, that also sadly tell us more about them than the movie itself bothered to) - how does that tie into a "ghost story" about a guy who went Jack Torrance on his wife? There's a brief bit where one of the guys yells and tries to hit his girlfriend, but otherwise there's a disconnect between their story and the one they were supposedly investigating.
And if failed board-pulling isn't your thing, then perhaps you like people reading Wikipedia printouts? Each of the visits to the LA "hotspots" has one of the girls reading the Wiki about the case. Interestingly, it seems that the girls have never heard the pages before, as they frequently stumble over words and such - it's actually logical, but not entirely MOVIE-logical in that it gets mildly obnoxious to listen to, especially when they get read 2-3x in some cases. Plus, they just go to the spots and basically make like Clark Griswold at the Grand Canyon - "OK, we're here, let's go!" Seems like they could have milked this stuff for a few more scares, and it's kind of odd that they supposedly got all these things from a "Haunted Hollywood" site when most of their picks have no known ghost stories involved with it - the Black Dahlia is one thing since it's notoriously unsolved and especially gruesome, but the home where George Reeves (reportedly) shot himself? The home where Dorothy Stratten was killed by her husband (who then killed himself)? The hell those have to do with ghost stories? I understand that they wanted to stick to Hollywood stories (as opposed to say, the Night Stalker), but again, their setup doesn't match the execution.
Hilariously, the best bit of the movie was actually just a glitch. Early on there's a shot of one of our heroes at the beach, about to propose to his girlfriend in the distance. As he runs, he suddenly froze and began to disappear from the screen as the water continued to move on the other side of the frame, so I just thought it was an effect, like something out of Skew or maybe the 3rd segment in V/H/S, only to discover it was a very odd streaming error. Which shouldn't surprise me - Fearnet's streaming player has given me problems every time I've used it, which is why I barely do. I only dove in again because the film is not available on Netflix Instant as of yet and only had a 3-4 day window.
And why would I want to watch it so badly? Because I kind of enjoyed the first Knock Knock, of course! Except there's just one problem, in case you haven't figured that out yet - this movie has fuck all to do with the original movie. As they often do, Lionsgate merely slapped the title on a completely unrelated movie, though this is more out of nowhere than usual. At least with something like the Dark Harvest movies I can say "OK, they're all about scarecrows and cornfields, and have supernatural elements". But the first movie was a straight up slasher set in New Jersey, shot traditionally - this is a Los Angeles-based Paranormal Activity wannabe. There is no possible scenario where anyone who saw/liked the original Knock Knock would be satisfied with picking up this "sequel" and finding a movie that shares not a single similarity. The original title was 1666, referring to the number on the house where
most some of the movie takes place, and while I can see how that might not be particularly eye-catching, the fact that they'd so openly try to mislead and dupe the audience is pretty disgraceful. Might as well just call it "Fuck You!". The filmmakers have plenty of things to apologize for, but they at least deserve their bad movie to stand on its own two feet.
What say you?
P.S. Stop opening movies on 911 calls! It's a horror movie, we KNOW something terrible is going to happen down the road. No need to blow half of the mystery right at the top just to make up for your boring first half. Here's an idea - write a better movie so you don't have to worry about it.