Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Straight men: Two hot girls show up at your house on a dark and stormy night, seeking warm shelter and a phone. Would you turn them away? And what happens when things escalate, morphing from every man’s fantasy into their worst nightmare? That’s the concept of director Eli Roth’s psychological thriller, KNOCK KNOCK. It’s a taut, provocative and polarizing piece of genre filmmaking starring Lorenza Izzo and Ana De Armas as Genesis and Bel and Keanu Reeves as the hapless husband victim, Evan.
At the film’s recent Los Angeles press conference, the cast and crew shared a handful of behind-the-scenes stories with us.
7. It was inspired by DEATH GAME. Not only was the psychological thriller produced by Colleen Camp, who also has a small cameo in the film, but it was inspired by her 1977 film. Camp confided, “It was a film Eli was inspired by. They [Roth and Izzo] were looking at a lot of movies in that era.” Roth later added, “Her performance is so masterful. If that movie had come out today, she’d be that ‘it girl.’ Definitely worth revisiting.”
6. The girls aren’t one-dimensional villains. They may seem like they are tormenting Evan because they are entitled millenials, but there’s more than meets the eye to Bel and Genesis. Roth insisted, “We really wanted them to have real depth and be characters – not caricatures. And not psychopaths. We offer a little hint of the abuse they’ve faced in their past which they had no choice in. They’re feeling that all men are animals; you show up with the free pizza, they are gonna take it.” De Armas said, “We have a lot of layers. We are like two cats playing with the mouse in the middle.” Izzo concurred, “When you get this conflict of a traumatized past and their motivation, it’s liberating to completely go with that inner crazy.”
5. There’s a missing bonus scene. Roth confessed, “We actually shot a tag where we found them at another house. They’ve switched characters and are doing it to someone else.”
4. Shooting in a glass house was challenge. It may add to the Polanski-esque/ Hitchcockian undertones of Roth’s film, but shooting in a house with reflections everywhere posed a major problem. He stated, “We found this beautiful location – this glass box – which presented its own challenges. Everywhere there was a reflection. I like the house being a character – the house being a metaphor for the marriage.”
3. Keanu enjoyed playing the victim. We might be used to seeing him play the hero, but here the tables are turned when his fantasy turns into a nightmare. He exclaimed, “The victim is fun in movies! Eli created a great situation of trust. Lorenza, Ana and I had such love for the material and rehearsed in the house for a week. There’s a seduction, but there’s also comedy, thriller and emotional scenes. We had fun doing that.”
2. The homeowner saw her house in utter disarray. Usually when homes are rented out for film productions, their owners stay far away until production has ceased and returned the home to its former mint condition. Unfortunately, this homeowner – an interior decorator – visited the set on the worst day possible – following the girls’ destruction of the home and backyard. Aaron Burns, who plays Evan’s wife’s assistant, Louis, spilled, “I saw her pull up and I run inside. ‘Guys make sure she does not come in here.’ She comes ripping through her house. She almost fainted. She’s just distraught. We had to re-sod the whole backyard.”
1. Keanu’s “free pizza” speech. You may notice Reeves’ voice sounds a little raspy when he screams this monologue. “We shot it twice because the first time, I guess I wasn’t up for the task. I got back to the hotel and called Eli and said, ‘Please can I do this again?’ There was a long pause on the phone. Being the great director he is…[he said’ ‘Okay.’ So we did it again.” Roth adds, “Shooting nights is very difficult on all the cast. There was a point – at 6 in the morning – where he had no voice and was out of gas. We said, ‘This is your moment – your Oscar clip!’ It’s total helplessness. We came in fresh the next day and it was beautiful to watch.”
KNOCK KNOCK opens in theaters and on demand on October 9.