2021's Knocking will have its streaming debut on the Arrow Player on March 11th.
Interesting in knowing more about it? All of the details can be found online right here.
Which of us at some point hasn’t felt we were losing our mind?
I don’t ask that in any way to make light of psychological or emotional problems. Suffering is very real – always has been, always will be – and I think it’s sad that there’s been stigma attached to mental issues over the years that’s kept some serious discussion out of the public square. Every now and then a good book or a groundbreaking film transcends the usual noise, and it becomes ‘en vogue’ to champion a particular cause without being quieted down by our cultural betters. Perhaps if the mainstream media were so obviously committed to pushing political ideology and, in fact, reported on real world dilemmas we’d culturally be at a different place with the topic … but it is what it is. Sadly.
2021’s Knocking could be one such film.
Director Frida Kempff’s work may not be all that ground-breaking and still the story of Molly Aronson’s breakdown and recovery could resonate minimally as a starting point for debate. The likely problem might be that the feature is heavily promoted as a Horror when, in truth, it’s not. Setting aside that genre’s tropes, nearly every other element in the film – especially actress Cecilia Milocco’s performance – could serve as a springboard to talk about the emotional challenges that go hand-in-hand with surviving life and death. Of course, the drawback might be that without the added sauce of making the picture appear as if it’s potentially something greater than it is would people come and see it?
Life is a risk. So are good stories.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“A woman leaves a psychiatric ward after a nervous breakdown, only to start hearing mysterious knocking sounds in her apartment.”
As anyone can imagine, it’s a calculated gamble any time you employ an emotionally troubled narrator to tell a story.
Because this person has been shown to be potentially out-of-touch, the audience is put in the position of questioning the unfolding events: are we seeing them as they are or are they transpiring from a flawed recount? Are we given a clean slate to interpret or have the storytellers secretly drawn us in to the ‘otherworld’ as its being imagined by our anxious character? With such a construct, viewers are asked to suspend all disbelief and take everything Molly experiences at face value. We’re encouraged to go along for the ride and maybe even not watch too closely for detect clues that might indicate our heroine is heading for another collapse. It’s like a Disney attraction were the rides designed by Alfred Hitchcock!
What it didn’t do all that well is provide closure to the rest of the threads Emma Brostrom’s adaptation of the Johan Theorin novel raised, namely some of the other particulars involving Molly’s past and present. Being unfamiliar with the source material, I’ve no way of knowing what caused our lead’s original breakdown – yes, there are some very strong hints, but there’s also a world of ambiguity – and there are even more clues that Molly may have misinformed the audience. I’ll stop short of going into any measurable detail as I never like to spoil plot elements I feel are central to enjoying the film. Suffice it to say, I think a bit more examination would’ve eliminated any doubt created as a result of filmed events … unless Kempff intended to deliberately misdirect us … in which case I’m at a loss to understand why she felt so obvious a development was necessary.
Still, I'd be a fool if I fail to praise actress Milocco's work to the extent it deserves.
While the script gives ample moments to show the woman in pursuit of her own sanity, it takes a true craftsman (or craftswoman) to deliver it with conviction, and she embraces the vivid highs and lows. Milocco takes you along this journey -- you watch as she struggles to make sense of something bordering on the insane -- and it's increasingly clear she's willing to risk it all just for a single person to agree that something's amiss -- not necessarily tragic or life-shattering but merely out-of-sorts. At the same time, the woman is obviously struggling to put her life back into some semblance of order. All of this would not have worked with a lesser talent, and the lady is definitely one to watch in the years ahead.
Knocking (2021) was produced by Lask, Sveriges Television (SVT), and the Swedish Film Institute. It begins streaming on the Arrow Channel (Player) on March 11. For those needing clarification, this is a Swedish-language Horror/Thriller with English-subtitles. As for the technical specifications? It all looks and sounds brilliant.
Recommended … but, truth be told, it’s entirely inaccurate to classify Knocking as a legitimate Horror film. While it certainly dabbles with some of the makings of a traditional Horror, it’s far more a psychological-style thrill ride than it is anything else. Still, the Horror trappings are likely the elements that’ll draw an audience to the film – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and maybe they’ll even be expecting some kind of dark turn in the last act. It does go dark, yes, though in a vastly more conventional yet no less alarming way. Excellent lead performance … though some subplots needed more screen time.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Arrow Films provided me with a complimentary streaming link of Knocking (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.