Produced by John Giwa-Amu,
Claire Moorsom, Nicky Earnshaw
Written by Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler
Directed by Caradog W. James
Starring Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton,
Javier Botet, Nick Moran, Jordan Bolger
There have been a fair amount of horror films in the last few years that deal with a parent’s dysfunctional relationship with their child.
Mama, The Monster, the undervalued (and underseen) Before I Wake, the upcoming XX and, most notably, The Babadook, all used the genre to explore a parent’s or parents’ attempt to connect with their child.
The latest in this sub-subgenre is Don’t Knock Twice, from director Caradog James, who also directed the nifty A.I. flick, The Machine, a few years back.
Katee Sackhoff plays a mother desperate to reconcile with her teenage daughter (Lucy Boynton), whom she gave up to the state years before due to her debilitating drug addiction.
The daughter wants nothing to do with her mother — until her friend disappears mysteriously. The teen believes it has to do with a woman she and her friend accused of kidnapping a young boy when they were younger. They apparently tormented the woman – constantly knocking on her cottage door – until the old lady committed suicide.
The daughter becomes convinced the old woman is actually a witch who is now seeking revenge.
Of course, her mother, as well as the detective on her friend’s disappearance case (who also happened to have presided over the case of the missing boy), think the girl is nuts.
But then crazy, creepy things start happening that begin to melt away the mother’s stubborn disbelief.
A pretty standard script is given cinematic life by good performances and even better direction that favors visual storytelling and style, bolstered by several terrific jump-scares and some truly suspenseful set-pieces.
On the down side, the creature design is all-too-reminiscent of earlier fright flicks, especially The Grudge and The Ring films. The images of the witch’s spindly fingers creeping out of a kitchen sink or over the edge of a bed still work despite the familiarity of the scenes, but it would have been cool if the creature were more unusual.
Some of the characters’ motivations are presented in clunky fashion, and there are one or two moments where the story just doesn’t make much sense.
The ending is also satisfactory if stale, ending the film on a medium-to-low note.
Still, with commendable technical credits (kudos to the production design, as well), fine performances, solid direction and good scares, there’s far more to recommend Don’t Knock Twice than not.
Don’t Knock Twice is now playing in selected theaters
and is now available on VOD and HD Digital.