Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Knock Knock! Who’s There? – horrible Hong Kong horror

On the evidence of this shocker, Carrie Ng should think twice about filmmaking

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 August, 2015, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2015, 5:54pm

 With all due respect to one of Hong Kong’s top actresses from the 1980s and ’90s, Carrie Ng Ka-lai could do well to reconsider her decision to become a filmmaker. Only a few months after co-helming an utterly awful and nonsensical slasher flick, Angel Whispers, with Shirley Yung Sau-lan, Ng has cranked out her solo directorial debut, Knock Knock! Who’s There?

While this ghost-story triptych set around a funeral parlour is a slight improvement on Angel Whispers’ embarrassing failure to engage, the new film’s thorough inability to sketch out characters and its far too frequent sighting of lame-looking ghosts pointlessly hovering behind people have rendered this a textbook example of how not to make a horror movie.

In its first segment “Missing”, a bride-to-be (Annie Liu) is decapitated in a road accident when her billionaire fiancé tries to evade encroaching paparazzi. Of all the spooky stories this could spawn, we are, shockingly, left with a mawkish romance that reunites the headless ghost with her funeral host ex-boyfriend (Babyjohn Choi), who previously broke up for the stupidest of reasons.

The second story, “Karma”, sees the gambling addict  owner of a funeral supplies store (Ng) bury a stray cat alive in a superstitious ritual to boost her fortune. Little does she – or the audience – expect that the cat’s vengeful spirit would possess her niece (Kate Tsui). Nor, in quite an anticlimax, that the Cat People-like figure would resort to poison instead of supernatural power.

Echoing Angel Whispers, the final part “Smell” charts the repugnant case of a psychopath (Eric Kwok Wai-leung) who kills and dismembers sex workers. While the mortuary beautician (Jennifer Tse) summoned by the dead girls for help is an American-educated non-believer, Ng takes no interest in the character’s obliviousness to Chinese superstition and settles instead for yucky degradation.

A boilerplate horror film that miserably struggles to appreciate the craft of sustaining tension and building towards effective scares, Knock Knock features a few courageous performances – in particular Tsui and Kwok – but otherwise wastes its ensemble cast in frivolous roles. If not for its over-reliance on loud bangs, the film could well qualify as a full-on snorefest.

Knock Knock! Who’s There? opens on August 27