‘Knock Knock’ Review | Behind the Scream Door

Keanu Reeves may not be the single most respected actor of his generation, but he sure does get around. Action movies, romantic comedies, kung fu films, documentaries, stoner comedies, the dude has dipped his toe into just about every genre. So it only makes sense that when Eli Roth offered Keanu Reeves a chance to act in what is essentially a porno movie, he’d jump at the chance. After all, he’s gotta punch out that box in his BINGO card.

Not that Knock Knock is XXX-rated, or even X-rated. It’s just an old school erotic thriller crossed with a new school home invasion movie. Imagine if Glenn Close kidnapped and tortured Michael Douglas in his house for about 2/3’s of Fatal Attraction and you’ve got some idea of how Knock Knock was conceived.

But the idea for a movie and how it actually plays out can be two totally separate things. From the shiny yet unambitious photography to the comically underdeveloped storyline, Knock Knock plays just like a typical pornographic movie for the first half hour, except Knock Knock milks the heavy-handed foreplay for just about ever, then skimps on the actual sex, and then spends the rest of the movie punishing the poor hero for taking advantage of two sexy nymphettes who practically molested him into a three-way.

The plot, such as it is, finds Keanu Reeves playing Evan Webber, the somewhat overlooked patriarch of an idyllic household, with a successful wife and two kids and a thoroughly dashed libido. When the rest of the family goes away for the weekend he’s prepared to work the whole danged time, but then two rain-soaked nymphomaniacs arrive at his front doorstep and he invites them in to dry off and calls them an Uber. No funny business. He’s just being a nice guy.

Then of course Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana De Armas) reveal themselves to be free-loving bisexual flight attendants who love three-way sex and think monogamy is stupid and they KNOW the Uber driver is outside but a shower sounds SO GOOD and Evan was SO NICE and sexy-sexy-SEX-sex.

As tawdry as Knock Knock is, and it is enjoyably tawdry for a little while, it eventually falls into the same familiar territory as any of the classic erotic thrillers of yore. The man who cheats on his wife will have awesome sex (which the audience will only get to see a little bit of), but in the end he must be punished. Because these girls are avenging angels, or perhaps just damaged goods. Whatever they are, they exist to make every man in the audience think twice about cheating on their wives and girlfriends, because otherwise they’ll be physically abused to death or worse. It’s social conservatism at gunpoint.

So Knock Knock manages to be impossibly conservative while being impossibly sleazy, and that’s the way we’re supposed to like it, I suppose. But the dialogue is so hammy and the plotting is so thin that Knock Knock doesn’t ever work as a thriller, and it’s not an effective comedy because it wants to make us hurt more than it wants to make us laugh.

It all just plays like a cheap, smutty movie that judges you for wanting to see a cheap, smutty movie. It’s a porno film that comes with its own guilt and doesn’t even deliver the goods. One has to wonder what the demographic for a movie like that really is, but one can easily figure out what the appeal was to make it in the first place. Everyone involved gets to make a porno movie without harming their careers, while looking down on anybody who might actually enjoy porn. Knock Knock is the best of both worlds, if both worlds were judgmental as hell.

Photos: Lionsgate

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.