Someone's Knocking at the Door:
And no, for you oldies lovers out there, it's not Brother Michael or Auntie Gin. For the record, that mighty Paul McCartney song is called "Let 'Em In," and it has nothing to do with this full-on gore and sleaze assault from writer/director Chad Ferrin. Packed with aggressively wrong-headed sexuality and bloodshed, Someone's Knocking seems poised, indeed pushed toward the goal of a grindhouse revival. However with its psychedelic leanings and twisted sense of humor, it bears more resemblance to Stuart Gordon's early work than anything else.
The quick upshot finds a group of loutish med students intent on getting f-ed up on whatever they can ingest while f-ing each other amongst files and cadavers. Sounds both romantic, and like a fun, drug-fueled blast, right? However Ferrin lets us in on something the students don't yet know, something that would make them think twice about sucking down the experimental drug Taldon while attempting to dip their wicks. Yes, the opening scenes treat us to a mind-bending sex treat that turns into an anal assault with extreme malice and intent to kill. It works, and things get worse.
You see, when your activities seem to be a portal for a notorious serial-killing sex-couple thought vanquished in the '70s things can get rough, and bloody sex-death is the only logical outcome. It takes more than this to make a good movie, though, and we wonder if Ferrin has what it takes to pull it off, with a limited budget to boot. As is so often the case, the answer is yes and no - it kind of depends on what you're looking for. Ferrin has enough of it down pat to indicate a promising career.
If those things Ferrin may need work on include slightly more engaging plots with pleasant characters, at least he's got the horror, slime and style down pat. Unfortunately, you'll have to put up with some pretty self-absorbed, unlikable characters struggling through a mystery that's not all that mysterious, and worse, tends to bog things down a bit. After that barfura opening, (that's my twist on the word bravura, if you want to know) you have to wait a bit to find stuff that lives up to it. Actors playing detectives become involved, who at first bring some charming gumshoe-isms, but quickly reveal that they are acting, acting, acting - which kind-of takes you out of the picture. Then the dragging starts, as numerous interrogation scenes become formulaic and repetitive.
However one performance (not to mention all the outrageous gore, sex-death and psychedelic style) really digs into the exploitation cat-box, namely Ezra Buzzington as sex-murderer John Hopper. Buzzington's on the edge job, not to mention his psychotic appearance, make Hopper one of the creepiest, nastiest horror villains to hit DVD in a long time. Marry this with an arresting A/V style full of jerky edits and psycho stuttering vocal trippiness that for once completely serves the trajectory of the movie, and you've got what might not be a deep, but is easily an entertaining stomach turner. And that scene with the naked fat guy chasing people around a hospital with his gigantic dong flapping around? while bringing to mind Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, it kind of sexually assaults it, too.
You know what they say, when Someone's Knocking at the Door they open a window to a nice 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that's nice and sharp, tastefully gritty, with good detail levels and rich colors throughout.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround Sound Audio are both available, and are certainly put to the test by Ferrin's aggressive aural soundscapes. Whenever someone starts tripping out, lots of weird audio, stuttery vocal effects and other fun things pound at your eardrums. It can be quite loud, comparatively, but these episodes aren't meant to compete with dialog, so it's not exactly a problem. Just don't crank it when your kids are at home.
And here's to Indie Horror features that pack on the extras! You get Two Commentary Tracks both with Ferrin, one includes actor/producer Noah Segan, the other actor Timothy Muskatell. The first track is the best, as both commentators had great oversight of the total product, while the second is more like a Q&A between Muskatell and Ferrin. Surprisingly the tracks manage to avoid duplicating too much information. A 50-minute Making-Of Featurette goes informally in-depth, with lots of narration-free behind-the-scenes footage. Aspiring indie filmmakers will appreciate the wealth of material. Four minutes of Deleted/Extended Scenes give you some extra nudity for your buck, while an Original Poster Artwork gallery listed on the DVD was not to be found. A 5-minute short "Taldon Drug Test Subject #1" makes its full appearance from glimpses seen in the film, and a "Say It" Music Video by Andrew Lynch is good for some creepy fun. Lastly, Trailers for other Chad Ferrin films, as well as other Vicious Circle releases - not to mention three fantastic trailers for Knocking itself - finish things off nicely.
Chad Ferrin's sicko grindhouse revival film may have more in common with tongue-in-cheek yuck-fests of the 1980s (see Re-Animator for instance) and it might offend those looking for a satisfying conclusion, but it sure does pile on the nasty stuff. If you like your sex and death all mixed up together, Ferrin supplies sick thrills aplenty. Throw in a party-pack of extras, and gore hounds can find this one to be Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com