Don’t Knock Twice is a British film concerning an American sculptor Jess (Katee Sackhoff) who, reunited with her estranged daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton), ends up fighting a demon hell-bent on dragging said offspring into the netherworld.
I hadn’t heard much about this film before watching it and had no idea what to expect. So as always I jumped in with both feet excited, curious and eager to see what this horror had in store… unfortunately, I ended up disappointed.
The film starts off promisingly with ominous opening credits filled with fire, skulls and dark images. We quickly learn that Jess is estranged from Chloe who has been living in a children’s home for the past nine years, as a result of Jess’ drug and drink addictions.
We then cut straight into a demon story with no real set up that leaves you feeling a little left behind. Chloe and her friend Danny knock twice on the door of a house inhabited by the spirit of ‘Ginger’ (a local woman accused of taking a young boy, who ultimately killed herself).
They both decide to knock twice on the door (as you might have guessed from the film’s title) and with a click of your fingers, some bony, dark figure appears in Danny’s flat and he disappears.
His disappearance scares Chloe so much that she decides to forgive her mother just enough to show up at her door – she lives in a mansion with her husband (Richard Mylan – who appears solely to leave the two alone just in the nick of time to allow their relationship to bond over the demon).
We are subjected to the usual scares: a ghostly face at the window, creaky doors opening by themselves, blood pouring out of the taps and dark figures creeping in shadow-filled hallways. And then there are the clichés: Jess just happening to know someone (Pooneh Hajimohammadi) who knows about demons, a rudimentary cop (Nick Moran) who’s a bit rough round the edges, origins of this particular demon being searchable by Google… you know the drill.
Whether purposeful or not, I saw elements in Don’t Knock Twice that I felt I had seen before. The spectre’s shape and movements were similar to that of the spook in Lights Out, the use of a web cam just as a spirit comes into the room was very Paranormal Activity 4, and the statues gave me a real ‘weeping angels’ (Doctor Who) vibe.
The central theme of this story – the estranged mother-daughter relationship – is an interesting and complex idea that could have raised the bar of this film substantially. But sadly, the characters are under-developed, the story is stunted and the dialogue merely serves as a narrative. There is no originality and the obvious twists are practically pinpointed for the audience. The scenes are disjointed and there is no flow; it’s all over the place especially when there is a sudden jump straight into the third act.
In terms of acting, however, the females reign supreme. I would’ve considered switching it off if it wasn’t for the very good performances from Jess and Chloe who act everyone else off the screen. It’s a shame they weren’t rewarded with a better script and story. I do wonder why the talented Sackhoff agreed to star in this particular film.
There were some nice shots, in particular when Jess was walking through her garden at night with the mansion looming behind her and the close up of the ghost’s hands as it clawed its way out of a blood-filled sink.
If you decide to check out Don’t Knock Twice, you will be awarded with cheap scares, under-developed characters and a confusing third act which feels like a different film. Disappointing.
By Catherine Dunn (@toodamncat)
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