Director: Caradog James
Cast: Lucy Boynton, Katee Sackhoff
Watch Don’t Knock Twice online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Hot on the heels of indie sci-fi thriller The Machine, director Caradog James returns with horror movie Don’t Knock Twice – and when it comes to crafting high-quality genre flicks on a low budget, he’s definitely two for two.
The film centres on Chloe, a young woman who finds herself pursued by a supernatural curse, after she and a friend visit a local abandoned house, which, as the legend goes, belongs to the friendly neighbourhood witch.
What follows is somewhere between knock-down-ginger and Drag Me to Hell, as Caradog proves himself an adept horror helmer, his camera moving with the unpredictable eeriness of Sam Raimi and his effects carrying the practical creepiness of David Cronenberg – it’s only a matter of minutes until we get our first genuinely heart-stopping encounter with the spooky spectre. It’s not above the odd jump scare, but there’s grounding in the genre tropes – James has a neat knack of repeatedly using everyday objects, from hallway lights to kitchen sinks, to kickstart his often enjoyably extravagant set pieces.
But the script, by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, makes the welcome decision to keep the focus mostly away from the quiet-quiet-bang formula, instead focusing on the relationship between Chloe and her mum, who wants to reconnect with her daughter after years apart. This is less a horror story and more a mother-daughter drama, in which the biggest fear is them being separated.
Lucy Boynton, who dazzled as Raphina in Sing Street, is just as impressive here, while Battlestar Galactica and Riddick’s Katee Sackhoff, an actor who excels at hardened characters, revels in the chance to play soft and vulnerable. Together, they inject heart into this urban legend, while Nick Moran ensures there are surprises in store for his grizzled cop investigating the deaths caused by the curse. The result is one of the best mother-child horror movies since The Orphanage, a horror that achieves a lot with a little, isn’t afraid to back up scares with sentiment, and marks another promising calling card from an up-and-coming director.
The Hurt Locker is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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