Sundance 2021 – Knocking

You ever watch a movie and something so absolutely stupid happens that it tries to pass off as normal, and now you’re just hung up on that one thing? That happened for me during Knocking, the narrative feature debut of director Frida Kempff. Knocking has the makings of a perfectly fine thriller, finding Molly (Cecilia Milocco) who after a stay in a psychiatric hospital following tragedy, moves into an apartment and begins to hear knocking coming from above her ceiling. Unable to find where it’s coming from, and her neighbors telling her they don’t hear anything, she begins to suspect that the person doing the knocking is in danger. Is it morse code? Is it all in her head? We’ve got a solid premise, and then it does something so colossally dumb I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

You know the rules, if your film is a “Pee-yew this film stinks” designation, you don’t get spoiler protections. 

Knocking features the easiest psych ward breakout ever put to film. Molly eventually gets committed to the psych ward again after it seems her fears about a woman being in danger are disproven, she decides to break out and all it takes is her going up to the locked door in the unit and just pulling it hard enough that it opens. It’s hysterical. I was laughing at the absolute stupidity of how easy it was for her to escape for a good 5 minutes. I don’t know how things work over there in Sweden, but I am confident in saying as somebody who has been hospitalized twice, it is not that simple to break out of the psych ward. Absolutely hysterical. It’s almost up there with Law Abiding Citizen where Gerard Butler busts out of prison by putting on a fake mustache. 

There are some nifty things along the way, Milocco is committed and engaging to watch as she struggles with wondering if she’s going insane. Kempff attaches the camera directly onto Milocco for some sequences to fix us with her POV, but it’s a technique that begins to become tiring at the third try. 

The ending seems to present itself as ambiguous, which is damningly detrimental to the film if that’s the case, threatening to throw out it’s entire examination of gaslighting and support of believing women. And if the ending is meant to confirm Molly’s suspicions, it certainly does a poor job of it. It’s so ungratifying, because Molly didn’t really do anything to bring about that resolution, and any good twist causes you to go back and see the signs – there really weren’t any signs. This is an easily forgettable film, except for the part where I was howling at how easily she broke out of the psych ward. On to the next one.

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