Icon Vs. Icon’s resident horror enthusiast, Dylan Lyles, takes an in-depth look at IFC Midnight’s witchy ‘Don’t Knock Twice.’ The film, directed by Caradog James, stars Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Longmire) and Lucy Boynton (Sing Street, The Blackout’s Daughter). Catch it in select theaters and on HD Digital February 3rd, 2017.
THE REVIEW: If you would’ve told me that in 2017, post Paranormal Activity and the “James Waniverse”, there would be an interesting haunting movie I would’ve stared at you blankly and went back to longing for creature features and bigger budget slashers. It’s not that I have an issue with paranormal/haunting films, there’s just been an overabundance in the genre and few seem to be introducing new concepts. Wan has pretty much perfected the genre with his “Conjuring” series and most films entering the haunting genre are delivering a neutered version of whatever film they watched last. So when I heard that IFC Midnight was distributing the upcoming “Don’t Knock Twice” I have to admit I was less than thrilled to watch. That being said after checking out the trailer and seeing that the always disturbing Javier Botet was involved I must say I was intrigued. Well I got a chance to view the new Caradog James film a week prior to its release. Could it possibly buck the trend of dull possession/haunting films or will it join the countless other films trying desperately to copy the success of Insidious or The Conjuring?
First, let’s take a look at what Don’t Knock Twice actually is. Most films dealing with the paranormal contain an underlying message and this one is no different. At its heart Don’t Knock Twice is the tale of a mother trying to reconnect with her daughter. Jess (Katee Sackhoff), an ex-addict, is attempting to bring her, now teenage, daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton), back into her life. Of course Chloe wants nothing to do with the mother who gave her up many years ago. That is until Chloe and her boyfriend, Danny (Jordan Bolger), summon the spirit of a local “child murderer” Mary Aminov (Javier Botet). That night Danny disappears and Chloe is being followed every step she takes. She goes crawling back to Jess and her husband Ben (Richard Mylan) in hopes to seek refuge from the vengeful spirit. However, like most horror films, getting rid of a haunting spirit is just not that easy.
This film was beautifully shot. The artistic camera work, especially early on in the film was mind bending for an independent horror film. Botet’s performance as the terrifying spirit of Aminov was fantastic. I can rank it right up there with his other work as “La Niña Medeiros” in [REC] and the various spirits in Crimson Peak. No matter the film, Javier Botet’s odd shape and movements always send a chill down my spine. The film itself felt like a mishmash of other horror genres. That’s not exactly a bad thing; it keeps the viewer invested. At some point it became a Fantasy film. I must say I was always interested in where the film was going. It kept you on your toes until the very last minute.
That being said, I had multiple issues with the film. The acting left a lot to be desired. Sackhoff’s performance of the depressed mother trying to rekindle a relationship with her daughter came off as annoying. Her tonal shift throughout the film was a bit confusing as one minute she shows understanding of her daughter’s issues and then resorts to yelling at her the next. While I understand her disbelief in Chloe’s “stories”, she as an ex-addict should be a little more understanding. The script itself also had multiple issues. While the film showed its influences on its sleeve, it also became needlessly “twist” heavy towards the end. To the point where the ending didn’t actually make much sense. I won’t spoil anything but I will say that the motivations of a certain character really doesn’t do much for the plot of the story. It actually creates more holes than answers questions.
THE VERDICT: Long story short, I would give this a watch for Botet’s performance and the camera work alone. It definitely stands out in an era that’s churning these ghost films out constantly. While it’s not a film I will find myself watching multiple times, I believe it deserves to at least be checked out by every genre fan. Don’t Knock Twice will hit select theatres and Video-On-Demand services on February 3rd.
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”