Director: Chris Sheng
Writer: Chris Sheng
Producer: Chris Sheng
Stars: Aiden Cardei, Jordan Elizabeth, Beckett West, Stephanie Lovie
While touring the locations of notorious Hollywood tragedies, four friends become locked in a haunted house.
“Knock Knock 2” has an interesting premise that in theory should have pushed it over the expected first and second act lulls of a “found footage” movie. Yet it ends up drawing out the inaction even more than its dullest competitors. “Found footage” films routinely stock their opening moments with yawn inducing exposition that introduces the characters and acclimates the audience to its setting and style. “Knock Knock 2” does not even grant the courtesy of putting something boring to watch onscreen. It is just simply boring.
One of the initial scenes is of Aiden, one of the four twenty-somethings at the center of the story, proposing to his girlfriend Jordan. It might have introduced some identity to the two young lovers and their relationship were it not for the fact that the proposal occurs via soundless long shot. Aiden and Jordan are reduced to ant-sized figures in the distance who wordlessly cavort on the beach for nearly two full minutes.
This is followed by a several minutes long shot of a kitchen door as Aiden talks to his friend Beckett. While it can be appreciated that the camera is not conspicuously pointed at the action all of the time, there is a limit to how much can take place out of view. At some point, believability has to be traded for entertainment.
Beckett and Aiden’s girlfriends, Jordan and Stephanie, come up with a way to have October 31st fun without paying the money for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Armed with printouts of notorious Hollywood landmarks where murders and assorted tragedies took place, the four friends embark on a self-guided tour of Los Angeles’ haunted horror history.
This is a novel approach to creating a creepy atmosphere on the way to the meatier scares generally reserved for the climatic moments. Except “Knock Knock 2” turns this concept into another trial on its boredom endurance test.
One of the issues is that their tour of haunted Hollywood is not even informative. While driving around the city from one destination to the next, the foursome takes turns giving monotone readings of Wikipedia entries on such notable murders as Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, TV’s Superman George Reeves, and Elizabeth Short, “The Black Dahlia.” Listening to the dull readings is reminiscent of bygone elementary school days when the teacher would call on students to read a few paragraphs of a textbook selection. There was always at least one kid who read slower than everyone else. You were already a ways ahead by reading in your head but still had to suffer through little Johnny’s painfully passionless recital.
More disappointing than the amateur narration is that when they do arrive at these locations, nothing happens. In some cases, they just pull up to a gate, say “there it is,” and then it is off to the next stop. The opportunities are rife for tipped object jump scares or unsuspecting neighbors surprising them with a shouted “who are you,” but none of that happens. Also, it is difficult to believe that this setup will be of interest to anyone who cares little for the morbid side of Hollywood lore or who resides outside of Los Angeles.
For those that do reside in Los Angeles, the crux of the story presents another problem. The final stop, whether they intended it or not, is the home of a fictitious murder-suicide that traps the characters inside. Unlike the haunted mansions or asylums of other films, this home puts a unique spin on the suspension of disbelief. As anyone familiar with 1930’s era one story Hollywood homes might know, it would take no more than six minutes to explore every corner such a small box would have to offer. This becomes obvious to everyone else when doors are opened only to reveal another closet rather than another room.
Of course, Aiden and his friends have to actually go inside first. From the moment they park the car to the moment all four characters pass through the doorway, nearly nine minutes elapses. The fearless foursome spends most of that time on the porch arguing about whether or not they should even go in. While waiting for the inevitable, the audience can pass that time by exercising their ocular orbs with plenty of eye rolls.
Eventually, Aiden and company become trapped inside the home after discovering that the front door is missing an inside knob. Aiden and Beckett put in repeated efforts to pry boards off the windows and escape, but to no avail. At one point, the group gives in to the hopelessness of their confinement and there is then a time-lapse montage of them continuing to do nothing. Presumably, each of them only knows three people and all of them happen to be trapped in that house. Because although their cell phones are shown to be working, no one ever thinks to call someone and say, “hey, can you come and turn this knob from the outside?”
On top of everything, “Knock Knock 2” does not have a solid fright. The deaths are offscreen and of those that take place during the film, the bodies completely disappear. Had they been shown, however, it might not matter. Much of the footage throughout the movie is out of focus almost as much as it is in focus. Bring all of these elements together, and “Knock Knock 2” makes for a top contender in the category of most uneventful “found footage” movie ever made.
NOTES: “Knock Knock 2” was previously titled “1666.” There is epilogue text after the end credits. “Knock Knock 2” is unrelated to the first “Knock Knock” film.
Review Score: 15