Eli Roth's latest is a home invasion thriller with a twist, featuring Keanu Reeves
Following on from his triumphant turn as an assassin in John Wick, Eli Roth’s home invasion thriller brings Keanu Reeves back to earth in unceremonious fashion. A reworking of Peter S Traynor's 1977 exploitation thriller Death Game, Knock, Knock generates a decent sense of foreboding before the action becomes desperately camp.
The role makes good use of Reeves' likeable screen presence; he plays devoted husband and father Evan Webber, who blithely celebrates Fathers' Day without guessing at the storm that's brewing. While his family visit the beach, Evan is disturbed by the arrival of two suspiciously perky girls, Bel (Ana de Armas) and Genesis (Lorenza Izzo), who claim to be lost. Evan tries to look the other way while the girls shed their clothes for a shower, but their aggressive approach to seduction causes him to have selective amnesia about his marital vows, and steamy three-way sex ensues. The next morning, however, the girls change their tune, and proceed to torture the hapless Evan in all manner of fiendish ways.
Roth’s most recent film, The Green Inferno, failed to create the same sense of transgressive paranoia that characterised his biggest hit, Hostel. Knock, Knock works best when anticipating Evan’s descent from the moral high-ground. Once the true nature of the girls' arrival is revealed, the film has nowhere to go but hysteria. And, while it’s amusing to see the indignities that Reeves suffers, particularly in a mock game-show scenario, Knock, Knock offers little that's new in its dissection of male vanity / virility.
While Reeves has never displayed much range as an actor, Knock, Knock at least feeds on the self-deprecating humour that laced his performances in The Matrix and Speed. The joke’s certainly on him in Roth’s fifth film, and his game performance provides this grubby effort with an undeserved touch of class.
General release from Fri 26 Jun.