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Cecilia Milocco appears in <i>Knocking</i> by Frida Kempff, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Hannes Krantz.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’21] ‘Knocking’ (Knackningar) review: Swedish horror brings new dimension to classic horror

A powerhouse lead performance.

Knocking is a Swedish horror movie that takes a familiar horror trope and adds new layers to it. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie is about a woman named Molly who has moved into an apartment. Before long, she begins to hear noises from upstairs. They soon become more desperate and sound like cries for help. But why can’t anyone else hear them?

The film is filled with beautiful camerawork. Director Frida Kempff’s experience in documentaries shows in shots that accentuate the landscape. These are contrasted by tight close ups that show the full range of emotion. There are also shots done at odd angles that add tension. It is a nice mix that that differentiates Knocking from other horror movies.

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This is especially noticeable when Molly confronts the person she thinks is responsible for the sounds. At this point, Knocking alternates between Molly’s point of view and a low angle camera that follows her around as she races through the complex. (This shot is used often in movies when someone is partying hard.) It brings a frenetic energy to the film.

[Sundance '21] 'Knocking' (Knackningar) review: Swedish horror brings new dimension to classic horror

Ironically, the movie is a quiet one. Molly’s tale is a personal one and Knocking emphasizes that by moving at a methodical pace. There is none of the chaos or jump scares that would be expected from a movie with this premise. Which is not to say it does not want to work in the genre space. This is a horror movie. It is character and story driven, but it is definitely horror. There is the misdirection and mystery that is normally found. Knocking even has an opening straight out of a 1980s scary movie.

Ultimately, how much people will enjoy the film will be based on the resolution. Everything is resolved yet Knocking still leaves some things for the audience to work out. Cecilia Milocco gives a powerhouse performance while the mystery will keep people guessing the entire time. It is a multifaceted method of storytelling that will divide audiences.

Continue to check out AIPT for our ongoing coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. Tickets and a full lineup can be found here.

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