Completely Undecided Upon, ‘Don’t Knock Twice’ Still Gets a Big Recommendation (Review)
Directed by: Caradog W. James
Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Javier Botet
I never know if it’s a good thing, or a bad thing when I can’t really decide whether I enjoyed a film or not. I’m just left torn, uncertain about everything, from the film to my very own opinion, I just can’t really wrap my head around it. That’s frustrating. And here I am again, relatively fresh from a viewing of Don’t Knock Twice, and I’ve got zero clue as to whether I dug what I just saw, or not. So, now that you’re informed on my position, prepare yourself for a sketchy (at best) breakdown of what could go on to build something of a cult following down the line.
Caradog W. James sets up what ultimately proves to be a little fairy tale-ish, a little slasher-ish and a little mystery… ish with basic character introductions, but he plows right through the story with a genuine purpose. It involves an old urban legend, a supernatural force and a burdened mother trying to build a relationship with her teenage daughter while free-falling into a reality that can’t possibly be real. And it really is structured pretty well. I think a few of the scares are a bit too telegraphed, and that throws a strange monkey wrench in the pace of the picture, but all in all, this is solid storytelling. It’s quality storytelling that gets a big helping hand from director, James, cinematographer, Adam Frisch and editor, Matt Platts-Mills, three individuals who seem to have had a pretty clear and universal idea as to what they wanted this film to truly be about. That enables the three to create some very haunting imagery, which in the end emerges as the picture’s greatest quality.
The acting is nice and smooth, with no one moving along too woodenly, and no one botching emotional or dialogue deliveries. But Katee Sackhoff seems just a little bit off to me… it’s as though her character should experience an escalation – a build up to the big finale, but Sakhoff seems like a total and utter wreck, right out of the gate. There’s a nervousness within her delivery that says this is already the final act, while still in the film’s introductory stages. Sakhoff is and has been a very well-rounded thespian, and she’s completely capable of knocking this kind of role out of the park, but she has the look of someone who has brought home life to work. Now, that does, in some ways empower her. She absolutely nails frazzled, so there’s no wondering whether she’s fit for the big conclusion or not. It’s just that in a few of the earlier sequences, she already looks just completely AWOL in the eyes while she could have been strained but completely in control of her emotions – I really believe that would have made a difference in the impact her character makes.
I could sit here and give you a dozen paragraphs on things I enjoyed about the film, and things I didn’t, but that sounds like a boring idea. All I really need to emphasize that his is just one of those films that, for me, rests in that in between where a number of other pictures reside, label-free, neither loved nor hated. I think there was some damn haunting imagery in the flick, and a few camera techniques that greatly impress… and I’ve covered the other angles of the production. Even if you do happen to find yourself in my shoes, and feel as though, pros cast aside, there were some seriously predictable scares, ripples in the pacing and patchy moments in the acting department, there are still very respectable qualities to consider. You might easily find some beauty in the look of the film, and you may interpret the story and performances in a different way. That’s a very real thing to consider. My mind isn’t made up, in the least bit about this movie. I still truly cannot decide if I like it or not, and I think that may be deserved of a W, because there’s no doubt I’ll be watching this one again in the near future. If I get two or three screenings out of it, then someone did something right.
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