Originally published on The National Student on 20/03/17.
Katee Sackhoff headlines this flimsy demonic horror about a haunted door on the edge of a motorway in Wales.
We’ve had haunted houses, haunted dolls, hell, even a haunted car once upon a time. But never in so many years, have we come across an idea as limp and lazy as Don’t Knock Twice’s central horror: a literal ‘scary door’. We now apparently live in a world where dodgy Futurama jokes are dictating what gets made.
Sackhoff stars as an American sculptor who reconnects with her estranged daughter (Sing Street’s Lucy Boynton), only to find that they’ve both become cursed, after knocking (you guessed it, twice) on the freaky door in question. Which just so happens to be attached to an abandoned house thought (by a local urban myth no less) to have once been inhabited by a rather unhappy-sounding witch.
It’s all fairly cut-and-dry stuff; obviously the door itself doesn’t really matter in the long run, and the prime antagonist of the whole thing is actually a shadowy demon that, although freaky enough, seems to have been sneakily lifted verbatim from last year’s Lights Out. Of course there are the occasional jumps and scares to be had, and said creature is certainly no teddy-bear. I’s just very, very difficult to ever escape the fact that Don’t Knock Twice feels cheaply strung together in almost every single department.
Some half-decent performances aside, the whole thing just feels decidedly rushed; thrown together with nothing but overused tropes and a frustrating lack of real tension. Director Caradog W. James’s previous effort The Machine – although again rather cheap – had at least some sense of ingenuity to it, but there’s barely even so much as a whiff of it here.
A few exceptions can be made for the film’s final act which, down to some half-clever world building and again, a spot of lasting chemistry between Sackhoff and Boynton, helps raise things just above pedestrian. But it does leave you questioning why it took so long to reach such a critical moment. The plot far too often ties itself in knots, desperately plodding towards obvious twists without ever celebrating really what makes Don’t Knock Twice even the least bit different from the usual horror fare.
So what remains is exactly that: a carbon copy of the Blumhouse bunch, with the odd underdeveloped nod towards something a tiny bit new. It’s a British genre movie that seems so desperate to forget its roots, that it piles the dirt on the only thing making it even remotely watchable: the fact that it’s not set in some other ropey suburban neighbourhood.
Don’t Knock Twice is just like any other low-budget horror of the last ten years, recycling the same throwaway scares and creature designs that even the most casual genre fans will have seen over a million times before. There’s so many better alternatives out there that the sad reality is, this one’s frustratingly forgettable.
Don’t Knock Twice is in cinemas and on demand 31st March, and on DVD from 3rd April.