Don't Knock Twice Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Caradog James
Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
2016, 93 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on August 1st, 2017
Katee Sckhoff as Jess
Lucy Boynton as Chloe
Richard Mylan as Ben
Nick Moran as Boardman
Pooneh Hajimohammadi as Tira
Jordan Bolger as Danny
Ania Marson as Mary Aminov
Jess is more successful as a sculptor than a mother. She has emerged from a dark period of addiction during which time she placed her daughter Chloe into foster care. Now that she’s part of a successful recovery program, she wants to have her daughter back in her life, but these feelings are one-sided.
Chloe and her boyfriend Danny challenge the validity of an urban legend by knocking twice on the door of a woman suspected of being a witch who keeps a demon close to her side. Later, when Chloe is haunted by an evil spirit, she flees to her mother for safety, but the demon follows and soon haunts both the house and the women. Jess’ model Tira is a spiritual woman who sees darkness around the girl and they ask for her assistance in releasing Chloe from the demon’s grasp. Meanwhile, Detective Boardman is investigating a series of disappearances and suspects Jess is manipulating her troubled daughter.
Mark Huckerty and Nick Osytler, the guys behind Howl (2015), have written a new dark tale that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Don’t Knock Twice is a traditional ghost story mixed with equal parts mystery and monster movie, but never commits fully to any aspect of the plot to truly satisfy. What starts as a supernatural horror film quickly shifts to a mother-daughter family drama, and while both threads are interesting, they seem at odds almost from the beginning. The problem with the mediocre script is that it fails to explain the lore of the old witch at the center with clarity and then it plays fast and loose with its own set of rules that it just laid out. The film is a spin on the legend of the Baba Yaga involving an old hag manipulating innocents around her. For a while it appears the movie is going to use the threat of monsters as a metaphor for something deeper – a trick pulled off with greater success in The Babadook. Unfortunately, any good will in this plotline is squandered once the actual demon arrives to wreak havoc.
Director Caradog James (The Machine) tries to elevate the material and succeeds more often than not, but doesn’t escape the script’s cliché-riddled minefield entirely unscathed. Had the first murder occurred off-screen, a little mystery would have worked wonders in the family narrative, but showing a supernatural event to the audience removes any doubt that something weird is going on. James manages to keep things moving to the best of his ability and throws in some beautiful shots involving both the demon’s presence and its home turf. Sadly, there is little time for developing supporting characters that become more important as the film progresses, leaving a general sense of indifference to their fates. There are plenty of solid ideas and concepts present in Don’t Knock Twice, but they are hobbled by the clunky script that hinders the overall pacing.
What works most of all is the dynamic of mother and estranged daughter thanks to terrific performances by the two main actors in the film. Katee Sackhoff (Halloween: Resurrection) does most of the heavy lifting as Jess, the recovering mother with an entire walk-in closet of baggage she brings to the relationship. Sackhoff’s Jess is a woman coming into her own strength once her daughter’s life is threatened. She shows no limit in what a mother will do to protect her child and delivers a grounded performance that keeps even the supernatural elements feeling legitimate. Matching Sackhoff’s intensity is Lucy Boynton (The Blackcoat’s Daughter), who gives the role of Chloe a strong sense of purpose. She wants to bond but has never received a reason to believe her mother will deliver on anything deeper than disappointment. All the strange occurrences could feasibly be committed by Chloe herself, as petty attempts to punish her mother and this would have made for a more interesting dynamic had the supernatural elements not been pushed so early in.
Had the story received another pass to streamline the action, I would be more likely to recommend a kick-ass horror flick, but as it stands, I can only suggest this to people who like their horror tame. There is not any nudity or onscreen violence to speak of, nor strong language come to think of it. I’m finding it harder to come up with nice things to say about this movie, so suffice it to say you may want to look somewhere else for thrills and chills.
Don’t Knock Twice is currently available as a Walmart exclusive until August 1st, after which point it will be on sale everywhere.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this 2016 feature looks terrific. Colors are strong and black levels are solid with plenty of small-object detail. There is nothing really to complain about regarding the transfer, but several scenes are a bit under-lit when it comes to picture clarity.
Audio options include a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and while I did not receive a whole lot of rumble, I found the mix quite pleasing. Dialogue remains clear and free from distortion and music cues are never intrusive.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Behind Closed Doors (14 minutes) is a typical but well-made look behind the scenes at the making of the film. On-set footage is interspersed with interviews featuring members of the cast and crew. Everyone looks to be having a fun time making the film and if you like this sort of featurette, you are in for a treat.
The original trailer is on display as are a handful of other titles available from the studio.