Like its title, the set-up of Eli Roth’s Knock Knock feels like a joke, albeit an enticingly sick one. Keanu Reeves, fresh off the career-resuscitating action flick John Wick, plays a happily married architect whose wife and kids head off to the beach for the weekend, leaving him all alone in his sleek, glass-and-steel modern home somewhere in or around Los Angeles. With some sorely-needed me-time on tap and a storm approaching, he puts on some vintage Kiss records, cracks open a bottle of red, and is about to spark up some recreational reefer when there’s a knock at his door.
Knock knock… who’s there? It turns out to be two gorgeous young women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas), whose skimpy outfits are soaked to the point of translucency. They tell him that they were looking for a party and apparently got the address wrong. So, good guy that he is, he invites them inside and offers to call them an Uber and get them some towels for them to dry off. Since this is all orchestrated by the same auteur who brought us the Hostel movies, it’s pretty obvious that none of this will end well. Soon, our clueless hero offers to throw their wet clothes into the dryer and the randy party girls start to put the moves on him. As he grows more and more uncomfortable with the situation he’s put himself in, it’s clear his scruples don’t stand a fighting chance. It’s just a matter of time until the other shoe – or, in this case, the other skimpy bathrobe – drops.
Knock Knock is a pretty flimsy erotic thriller, but thanks to Reeves’ oaken obliviousness it’s also got a few moments of deliciously trashy fun. It’s like Fatal Attraction for the naked-selfie generation. Are these vixens setting him up as part of some grand devious scheme, or are they just naughty nihilists looking for sick kicks by toying with a random husband and father because they can? Roth takes his prurient premise to ludicrous extremes of sexual gamesmanship, building to a finale that never quite pays off with the satisfaction you hoped. And while I suppose that if you squinted hard enough, you could make the case that this is a tale of feminist revenge, I’m not buying it. It’s just a sadistic, softcore thriller whose message is nothing more or less than: Don’t cheat on your partner — something that Glenn Close taught us a lot more artfully many moons ago. C