By Liz Lopez
The Swedish film Knocking started its festival run at Sundance early this year and continued to multiple film festivals internationally before arriving at Fantastic Fest. I found the film very intriguing, despite having viewed stories that feature a woman who is trying very hard to have people believe her about one thing or another, and almost automatically dismiss her as being “crazy” or she has mental illness. It is especially difficult for the woman if in fact she has received treatment for any type of trauma and she is dismissed. First-time feature director Frida Kempff works from Emma Broström’s adaptation of the novel by the same name authored by Johan Theorin. Molly (Cecilia Miloccco) is the protagonist of this story who has received in patient treatment after the loss of a loved one, Judith (Charlotta Åkerblom), noted in some flashbacks, but not spelled out. We see her about to make a fresh start, move into an apartment and start to unpack boxes from her past. It is noted in the first part of the film that many of the characters who reside on her floor (or the complex) are men, and only later we see there is a male/female couple in one of the apartments. Her inquiries about the persistent knocking she hears are met rather rudely by the residents. Cecilia Miloccco’s performance is excellent as she conveys all that she is feeling – Molly’s perspective – of what is happening within the walls of that complex. The excellent cinematography captures the character’s mood or feeling with close – up shots of her face, to longer shots of her actions when she is doing her own investigation after being ignored. From first scene to last, the camera is focused on Molly and what she is determined to do to have others believe her.
Among some of the residents that are not very welcoming (or distant) are Kaj (Ville Virtanen), who has a manner about him that screams he is a former military officer and has an attitude women are beneath him. The building’s super, Peter (Krister Kern), appears somewhat friendly while doing his job, but at the same time, also appears a little creepy. None of them claim to hear the knocking and it is an uphill battle for Molly to get to the bottom of where the sound is coming from, increasing to almost Morse code as the days go by. She believes in the experience around her that all deny, eventually including the police, all insisting it’s her imagination.
The noise might make anyone uneasy. When the knocking noise increases to muffled cries through the bathroom walls, she appeals to the police again, but from her perspective, someone is being beaten. Miloccco’s performance of Molly freaking out is spot on and the cinematographer Hannes Krantz’s work to show the audience this level of emotion is very through and effective.
The cast also includes Albin Grenholm, Alexander Salzberger, Krister Kern, Charlotta Åkerblom, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Naida Ragimova, Juan Rodriguez, Bengt Braskered
This film may not appeal to everyone, but the psychological horror is very effective and feels authentic. It is a film recommended for viewing, now available on Digital and On Demand as of October 19th.
Source: Yellow Veil Pictures, Fantastic Fest