A group of friends play a game that opens a portal to the world of the dead… but once some doors are opened they cannot be closed.
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FULL REVIEW: https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2020/04/24/knock-knock/
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Written & Directed by Jeff Betancourt
“It seems like I always start write-ups for horror shorts in a self-apologetic way. The genre, after all, leans towards cliché and visceral thrills, which often, as a result, limits depth of plot and character. Any horror fan will be quick to tell you that, more often than not, it’s the ride, not the destination.
If judging on that rubric, Knock Knock from filmmaker Jeff Betancourt is great fun—a Halloween campfire tale of a movie that progressively figures out a way to use different tools from the horror playbook in exciting ways. It’s suspenseful and scary, and as things escalate, it also veers into the gruesome and gory, managing to combine creeping tension with b-horror-esque viscera. The result is a sort of “greatest hits” of what a genre film can offer in terms of theme park-esque thrills. Is it deep? No. But, it’s just so effortlessly entertaining, harkening back to the “classic” 80s/90s era of horror where scantily clad, hyper-literate “teens” suddenly find themselves facing a demonic presence.
Things start conventionally enough. A trio of friends is playing an innocent game and things get…well…creepy. While the opening few minutes are well-executed, in the crowded space of horror shorts, they aren’t unique. What sets Knock Knock apart is it’s second half, when the “fun and games” aspect of the film turns to full-on midnight-style madness. In short, things get weird and gruesome, and, for lovers of practical make-up effects and prosthetic work, that’s music to the ears. I love the vibe that Betancourt was able to produce here: it feels like something my 13 year-old self would stumble upon when channel surfing late-night TV—a Tales from the Crypt episode that my parents would definitely not want me watching.
Audiences agreed. The film’s an oldie but goodie, playing at the 2015 SXSW Midnight Madness Short Film Competition. Bettancourt, who is a very established film editor, is currently writing a feature version of Knock Knock, and in turn, he’s finally putting it online for all horror fans to enjoy. Ivy Rose wants to say hello…” – S/W Ivan Kander
Starring Skyler Vallo, Galadriel Stineman, Danielle Savre, Zoe Lister.
Cinematography Jesse Feldman
Reproduced on this channel with the permission of the filmmakers.