A traumatized woman looks for answers in the tense horror-thriller Knocking.
Molly (Cecilia Miloccco) has spent the past year dealing with trauma. She’s being discharged from the hospital’s psychiatric ward and is trying to start her life again, but the loss of her partner Judith (Charlotta Åkerblom) puts a dark cloud over everything she does.
In her new apartment, Molly hears knocking on her ceiling. She looks for the source, but when her upstairs neighbours insist they aren’t the ones behind the noise, she makes it her mission to figure out the origins of the troubling knocking. She soon decides it’s a woman in distress, but no one believes her, not even the cops, especially since she’s had previous mental issues. Molly slowly loses grip with reality as the knocking persists and her frenzy to find the source spins out of control.
Knocking is a well-shot tension builder. With tight camera angles focusing on Molly as she regains her life, director Frida Kempff shows the isolation of someone grieving and alone. I liked the shakey, POV camera that builds anxiety, turned to Molly’s face as her neighbours corner and interrogate her. Molly finds purpose with the knocking, perhaps even reclaiming a part of herself instead of feeling helpless in her grief, but finding the support of others, and strength in her convictions, in this quest is a hurdle she must clear.
Miloccco captures Molly’s forced “normalcy” and sadness after a life-changing event well. You’re rooting for her to catch a foothold on sanity, and I’m assuming that otherworldly forces are helping her solve a mystery. Unfortunately, we’re left scratching our heads over a mystery that isn’t enticing or full of wonder.
Kempff’s feature debut uses the “hysterical woman” trope in a fresh way to tell the story of a woman lost after a tragic event. It’s effective through most of the movie, but the ending seemed overly symbolic, rushed, and a little confusing. While I don’t agree with spelling out a plot for an audience, a couple of moments didn’t mesh and left me wondering what happened.
I’d check out Knocking for Miloccco’s inspired performance, subtle score, great sound design, and gorgeous cinematography that uses warm hues to show a feverish spiral of one woman among skeptics.
This official 2021 Sundance selection hits theatres on Oct 8 and VOD Oct 19.