Film review: Knock Knock! Who’s There? – horrible Hong Kong horror
On the evidence of this shocker, Carrie Ng should think twice about filmmaking
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