“When I was a kid there was this strange old woman. People started saying she was a witch. If you knocked on her door, she would come and get you.”
Directed by: Caradog W. James
Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Javier Botet, Nick Moran
Synopsis: Driven together under duress, Chloe (Lucy Boynton) and her estranged mother (Katee Sackhoff) must face the mistakes of their pasts together if they are to survive a supernatural onslaught in their present.
Much like director Caradog W. James’s debut feature The Machine, Don’t Knock Twice has touches of invention and creativity that hint at something better than what we end up with. The problem being that those moments are few and far between. What’s left filling in the gaps between those moments is a string of horror clichés, unhelped by some dodgy dialogue, a struggling supporting cast, and lighting that’s dark enough to make you squint.
Most frustrating though is how over-eager it is to show its hand and reveal it’s big scary monster. Which is somewhat understandable, because the demon’s design is particularly creepy, but it also serves to undercut any character development for the entire first act, the film instead opting for loud bumps and bangs. It’s in the midsection, where the literal demon is put to the side and the psychological demons of the lead pair’s past are explored that the film finds its footing. It’s pretty obvious that the strength of Don’t Knock Twice lies in the dynamic between the mother/daughter duo of Jess and Chloe (Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton, who are both decent), which makes it all the more baffling when it all reverts back to the heavy-handedness of the opening third for its final stretch.
There’s potential for sure – it’s just lost somewhere in between the witches, demons, curses and screaming.
Rating (out of 5):
Don’t Knock Twice is in cinemas and on demand March 31st and on DVD April 3rd.