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Don’t Knock Twice Review: An estranged mother and daughter set aside their differences to fight a demonic witch, but will they win?

Don’t Knock Twice review by Kat Hughes, March 2017.

Don’t Knock Twice Review

The broken mother has become somewhat of a theme within modern horror films. The BabadookMama, Lights Out, and Under the Shadow have all tackled the subject and now Don’t Knock Twice joins the ranks.

Jess (Katee Sackhoff) is a semi-famous sculptor trying to reconnect with her daughter. Now on the road to recovery following her hedonistic time on drugs, she is desperate to reclaim her teenage daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton). Chloe however, isn’t so keen on the reconciliation as, thanks to her mother’s drug dependency, she has spent the last seven or so years living in a children’s home. Her feelings soon change after she and her boyfriend (another child in the care system) unknowing call forth a demonic witch after a game of ‘knock a door, run’. Now the estranged mother and daughter must work together to stop Chloe becoming the next victim.

Don’t Knock Twice Review

Don’t Knock Twice has a really interesting premise, but it relies too much on genre tropes to stand out as original. The narrative falls into age old traps, and those familiar with the genre will find themselves in for few surprises. Personally, I called the ending very early on, but that may be because I’ve seen films of this type far more times than is healthy. The other issue is that the film decides to flip itself just after the mid-point, swapping horror sub-genre’s almost out of nowhere. The result makes for a confusing viewing, and the new direction jars with what we’ve previously seen. Either direction would work well on its own, but by stitching them together, things get jumbled and are suddenly not as slick as they could have been.

Where Don’t Knock Twice really shines is with its creature design. Played by Javier Botet, who recently played the eerie Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2, our demonic witch is the stuff that nightmares are made of. The creature is a spider-like mass of spindly legs, its movements slow and deliberate. Whenever Botet is onscreen (which sadly isn’t enough) the film starts to become pretty damn terrifying.

Don’t Knock Twice Review

A scene with Danny, Chloe’s boyfriend, set amongst a dilapidated apartment building, really gets the blood and adrenaline pumping. It’s a really great scare sequence, but is one of only a handful in the entire run-time. Had more of the film been able to replicate this magic then we’d be onto something really special.

Sackhoff and Boynton work great together and make a very believable mother-daughter duo, even if they are actually only fourteen years apart in age. The scenes between them are great, but unfortunately the script just doesn’t give enough for them to really stretch themselves.

Don’t Knock Twice could have easily been this year’s The Babadook, but poor scripting and a lack of imagination in places means that it falls very far short.

Don’t Knock Twice review by Kat Hughes, March 2017.

Don’t Knock Twice is in cinemas and on demand 31 March and on DVD 3 April

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