Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Don’t Knock Twice: Getting Witchy in Wales
Baba Yaga doing in Wales? Evil, that’s what—assuming it really is Baba Yaga.
Some say she is just a malevolent spirit with a huge grudge. Either way, she is
extremely pissed off in Caradog James’ Don’t
Knock Twice (trailer
which opens today in New York.
and her kind of boyfriend Danny are convinced the spirit of accused
child-murderer Mary Aminov remains enthralled to its demon string-puller. If
you knock twice at the door of her abandoned cottage, you will wake both
servant and master. Of course, they do that very thing, for reasons we are at a
loss to explain. Why not invoke Candyman and Bye Bye Man while they’re at it?
Danny is a “Redshirt” boyfriend, because he is not around for long. Thinking
she is clever, Chloe arranges a trial residency with Jess, her formerly
troubled birth-mother, who has recently tried to regain custody. After cleaning
up, Jess and her macabre sculptures were embraced by the art world, so she
could afford a vintage country manor. Marrying a banker like Ben did not hurt
either. Regardless, Aminov or Baba Yaga finds her there just the same.
exotic model Tira takes one look at the agitated Chloe and promptly pulls the
rip cord. She is “sensitive” to certain
phenomena and wants no part of the chaos to come. Unfortunately, local copper
Det. Boardman isn’t very reassuring either. Further complicating matters, Jess
and Chloe start to get conflicting counsel regarding just what the dealio is
with Aminov. Sadly, the accumulated stress does little to facilitate their reconciliation.
it is not perfect, Knock still
represents a big step up from James’ previous film, the didactic sf fable, The Machine. It starts conventionally
enough, but the third act is rather deviously clever. Arguably, it is that rare
horror film that somehow picks up steam as it goes along and redeems itself (if
not necessarily its characters) in the end.
“Battlestar” Sackhoff is pretty compelling as Jess, the barely sober mess.
Twentysomething Lucy Boynton still makes a credibly petulant teenager, which is
a good thing in this context. However, Iranian Pooneh Hajimohammadi should be
the breakout genre star to come out of Knock,
based on her weirdly alluring turn as Tira. She just makes the camera freeze in
Arguably, this isn’t such a bad week for horror.
Neither Knock or Eloise are likely be hailed as underappreciated classics years from
now, but both films stick with it, turning out considerably better than one
might expect. Recommended for horror fans out for a respectable fix, Don’t Knock Twice opens tonight (2/3) in
New York, at the IFC Center.
Labels: Horror Movies, Welsh Cinema