Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Knocking’ has a great central performance

How do you deal with anything if no one will believe you. How do you proceed with life if everyone tells you that what you are experiencing is all in your head? This is the process of gaslighting, an abuser forcing someone to question their thoughts and beliefs.

From this place comes the film Knocking, in which a woman recovering from a devastating emotional trauma who is trying to re-enter society is forced by those around her to question her very reality. It’s a hell of a premise for a horror movie.

Cecilia Milocco plays Molly, a woman who has just moved back into an apartment after an extended stay in a mental health institution. She is tentative and unsure, but it is time for her to try to move forward after a devastating loss and the breakdown that followed. As she spends time in her new flat, she begins to hear noises, a knocking, that she comes to believe is a signal from someone in distress, but everyone else in her apartment block assures her that she is wrong.

It’s the type of movie powered entirely by its central performance, and Milocco delivers the goods. Her turn as Molly has her quietly ut continually becoming more unhinged and more determined as she confronts the realities around her. It’s a performance that must be seen to be believed, and she plays it with great empathy and commitment.

The film is otherwise a little flawed, though. Despite being only 78 minutes long, it feels a bit repetitive at times; Molly hears something, Molly goes to someone for help, Molly is told it’s all in her head. In addition, the implications of what happened in Molly’s past are clear from the first flashback we see, we also see several more that make it explicit, and that feels repetitive too when only two flashbacks would have gotten the job done.

Still, between the direction from Frida Kempff (her debut feature!), which highlights Molly’s solitude and growing anxiety, and the performance from Milocco, this is a film to keep on your radar.

Rating: 3/5

Knocking (Knackningar) played as part of Fantastic Fest 2021. No Canadian distribution information is available at this time.

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