Review: Knocking

Directed by Frida Kempff and written by Emma Broström, a woman leaves a psychiatric ward after a nervous breakdown, only to start hearing mysterious knocking sounds in her apartment. Starring: Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm, Ville Virtanen, Krister Kern, Alexander Salzberger and Charlotta Åkerblom.

There’s a familiar basis to Knocking, revolving around how those who have had mental health problems in the past are more quickly judged or dismissed when they raise concerns. One overly easy comparison to make is to Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane, and while it is an obvious one, it’s also extremely relevant because whether or not you enjoyed that film, will likely be the same here. It’s a typically frustrating path, with Molly (Milocco) being ignored, patronised or underestimated at every turn but the writing skips over a key step to keep the audience glued in. There’s precious little to learn about Molly, we’re given clues to her trauma but there’s no tangible exploration of it and you don’t get to witness anything that gives a larger idea of her personality. The way that the dialogue is written makes her very awkward and odd, it does well to push that angle of preconceptions but also makes her difficult to invest in, or give her a sympathetic edge. It throws her to the wolves too quickly, and needed to let us get to know her first.

Directorially there is more to bring to the table, it’s a shame that those flashbacks of her trauma are so short lived because they’re superbly shot in a fantastic location. For the most part the direction manages to build an atmosphere where the writing is missing out. It adds more to the conversation and frames the story in a sinister fashion, but it can only do so much when the story can’t keep up or provide something as equally satisfying. The only poor choice with the direction, which is a very disappointing outlier, is the use of body cams and typical Go-Pro-esque messy, fast moving action shots. It takes things completely out of the more elegant, well structured place it had previously built.

Cecilia Milocco’s performance brings all of the manic focus and obsession that you’d hope for, mixed with the classic losing grip on reality and time. The writing restricts slightly what she can achieve, her quirks of answering questions with questions and the minimal background mean that while she’s not dislikeable and does have a relatable touch, you can’t quite totally get behind her. It’s something that’s again undermined by the story struggling to move forward, the progression is slow and doesn’t make the most of its time. It’s then all accentuated by the method it chooses for its big final scene, which is a very unsatisfying choice and doesn’t quite give the vindication you’d hope for, after such turmoil.

Knocking shows promise in its direction but its story is nothing we haven’t seen before. It moves at a slow pace, keeps things overly vague and doesn’t capitalise on the sinister, dark edge its direction is going for. It’s sadly ultimately unsatisfying and struggles to hold your attention.

Verdict: ✯½ | 3/10

Available on Arrow Player from 11 March

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