Friday, June 9, 2017

DON'T KNOCK TWICE (2016) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: IFC Midnight / Scream Factory

Release Date: August 1st 2017 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, 5.1 with Optional English subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Caradog James
Cast: Javier Botet, Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Nick Moran, Pooneh Hajimohammadi, Richard Mylan

When Chloe (Lucy Boynton, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) and her friend Danny (Jordan Bolger) knock on the dilapidated door of an abandoned house with a bit of a history, they're doomed. The stand alone house is eerily located right next to a freeway underpass, it is said to have been the home of a suspected witch who was accused of kidnapping and murdering local kids, a reclusive old lady named Mary Aminov who was known as "Ginger" because of her red hair, and who killed herself by slashing her throat sometime before Chloe and Danny ended up on her doorstep. As the Candyman-esque urban legend has it, if you knock on her door once it awakens the witch-demon, a second knock will awaken her human slave, and guarantees your death.  That very same night Danny awakens from his slumber to the sound of two eerie knocks on his apartment door, and true to the urban legend, he is attacked by an invisible force and dragged away to his demise. 

About the same time Chloe, who lives in a group home, also has a terrifying encounter with the witch-demon, but she manages to escape, fleeing to the sprawling home of her estranged mother Jess (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica), a former drug addict with a now promising career making creepy sculptures. The mother and daughter's relationship is strained from year of estrangement Chloe's feelings of abandonment, she pushes against her birth mother's need to nurture, but the two try to make the best of it, especially when it turns out that Chloe's wild story is actually real. 

The movie has a cool urban legend set-up, it looks good, technically well-made, but it's becomes very derivative in short order, with the mother trying to protect her daughter from a supernatural entity, and a black-shadowy witch, who is polite enough to knock twice before she drags you off to Hell. The look of the creature looks great, played by Javier Botet (Witching and Bitching, Alien Covenant, REC), a wispy shadow played with some good creepy menace. However, while the drama of the story between mother and daughter works well, the scares and arc of the story are played-out, a bit too much of the old been there and done that, particularly the predictable ending. 

Also around are an Eastern European model named Tira (Pooneh Hajimohammadi) who tells Jess of the Russian folktale of the baba yaga, which might play into the story, Jess's ineffective husband Ben (Richard Mylan), and Detective Boardman (Nick Moran) who is on the case, offering a twist and turn that is more of a groan. I liked the arc of Tira and how she introduces the baba yaga, also offering some trickery of her own that plays into the mythology that the film establishes. 

Ultimately the cool set-up doesn't carry through for me, it certainly has it's moments and some cool visuals, but not with any consistency, and it fell apart for me at the end with a twist that was broadcast way too early for my tastes. This one wants to be Drag Me To Hell (2008) but is sadly more Lights Out (2016), meaning it's not awful, it's a fun enough one and done, but I won't be re watching it.   

Special Features: 

- Making-Of Featurette (14 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD
A handsome and technically well made film, the cast is very good, and the special effects are keen, but the execution and the way it unfolds are too derivative for it to be any more than a one and done, perhaps this is more of a Don't Watch Twice... I know, what an awful pun, but I couldn't help myself. Don't Knock Twice is available now as a Walmart exclusive, and will be available everywhere on August 1st, 2017. 2.5/5