Famous artist and recovering addict Jess attempts to reconnect with her estranged teenage daughter Chole which causes the girl no end of stress. As a result ol’ C-dog goes and knocks twice (which we are warned we definitely shouldn’t do by the film’s title) on the door of the local haunted house (said to be inhabited by the ghost of a child murdering witch) and unleashes unholy hell into her life…and her friend’s life…and her mother’s…pretty much she takes a big ol’ dump on everyone’s parade. What follows is a good old spookshow joyride replete with crazy camera angles, eerie lighting, creepy crawly creatures (think along the lines of J-horror style ghoulies), the vastly underused (in sinful cinema terms anyway) legend of the Baba Yaga, organic soup, and some weird shit involving foxes.
First of all, Don’t Knock Twice is all over the map; it has elements of the aforementioned Japanese ghost genre (the creature in this film is an unsettling mix of long haired floor crawler and human spider), a brief found footage style kill, haunted house theatrics, mother/daughter relationship drama, Eastern European folklore…this thing throws a lot at the viewer in an hour and a half, and that results in some disjointed storytelling…and it works absolutely brilliantly. The strong acting between leads Lucy Boynton as the tough yet damaged Chloe and Katee Sackhoff as Jess, a real shit heel of a parent forced to step up to the plate to protect her daughter, adds a sense of gravitas and inter-personal dynamics usually lacking in fright flicks such as these, but by no means distracts from the gruesome goings-on. It should also be mentioned that while the scares presented are nothing new; the pace at which they are presented, and the artistic flare they are given, makes the familiar seem pretty damn fresh!
The only portion of Don’t Knock Twice that falters a bit is the pacing in the third act. Jess delves deep into the circumstances surrounding the haunting when things take a turn for the worse, and the scares let up a bit to give way to this sleuthing element. While by no means a horrible addition to the film, it takes a bit away from the top notch horror biz that preceded it, but thankfully the respite is brief as things get back on the road to terror town for the fearsome finale.
Don’t Knock Twice is the supernatural shocker you’ve been waiting for; it’s fast paced, fright filled, and offers surprising originality within a familiar framework. See this one immediately my creeps!