Into the Dark 9: They Come Knocking


You Keep A’Knockin But You Can’t Come In

Main Cast: Clayne Crawford and Josephine Langford

Director: Adam Mason

Well, it had to happen eventually.  Ray Bradbury used to say a writer should learn to write by writing one short story every week for a year because it is impossible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.  Also, it seems pretty damned difficult to make 12 really good horror movies in a row, too, without at least one of them being a dud.

I have found that dud.

The Father’s Day installment, THEY COME KNOCKING (written by Shane and Carey Van Dyke and directed by Adam Mason) is, simply put, a lackluster attempt at horror.

The background reeks of cliché tripe (mother died of cancer and a year later the dad packs up his two daughters and drives them to middle of the desert where, supposedly, he and their mother fell in love, in order to bury her ashes), but the heart of the story (the trio find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell signal, a car that’s been sabotaged, and half a dozen small feral children closing in on them, requesting to be let inside their camper) was off-limits immediately after Alexandre Aja’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake.  And that ending.  Jesus Christ, what decade is this?  The aughts called, they want their sappy climax back.

Older daughter Clair (Josephine Langford, “Wolf Creek”)  is just as moody and angry as all the other older daughters in all the other dead mother movies you’ve seen while younger daughter Maggie (Lia McHugh, THE LODGE) is full of wonder at the world, seems a little too eager and, honestly, was a little too chipper for my taste.

Clayne Crawford (“Lethal Weapon”) as the dad seems to have no clue what’s going on and repeatedly leaves his daughters alone while he tries to get them out of there.  You want to get them out of there, then take them with you, you dumb dolt.  He claims, however, the Maggie wouldn’t be able to make the hike.  Then stock up on water and carry her on your back.  I once carted my daughter around Universal Orlando on my back and my shoulders for an entire two days, just shut up and do what you have to to keep your family together and your kids safe.

But, no, he decides to go off in search of a phone or a better cell signal, leaves Clair to watch over Maggie and Clair, being withdrawn, scared, and preoccupied writing letters to her dead mother in her journal, loses track of her little sister.  Natch.

And all of this is supposed to be the tense setup as we head into the climactic nighttime confrontation of THEY COME KNOCKING .  I’ll just cut to the chase, they’re black-eyed kids, trying to do something or other, I don’t know, it’s never really made all that clear.  I know they’re somehow able to give the family visions of their dead mother in an effort to get them to let the kids into the camper because they can’t come in without being invited or something.  And at one point Maggie invites them in because she thinks it’s her dead mother back from the grave, not only looking healthy as ever, but also just magically here in the middle of nowhere because Maggie is just that annoyingly naïve.  And when Clair checks on Maggie she finds her little sister dead and mangled in the camper’s tub.  But it’s just an illusion, Maggie has been taken but this dad doesn’t exactly have ANY skills that might get her back. All he does have is a wine bottle full of his wife’s ashes and yes you read that correctly.

They made such a show of how important that bottle is all throughout the movie, I knew it would have some part to play in the climax and I was right and it was totally stupid. THEY COME KNOCKING was NOT a good movie, it wasn’t scary at all, it was only barely interesting.  Again, Aja’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES did everything this movie was trying to do and did it so much better in every single way.  Go watch that one instead.  A horror movie, THEY COME KNOCKING misses almost every mark.  As a Father’s Day movie, it’s a bit of an insult.  Pass.

More Into the Dark

The Body ~ Flesh and Blood ~ Pooka! ~ New Year, New You ~ Down ~ Treehouse ~ I’m Just F*cking With You ~ All That We Destroy

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