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  Knocking Bang Bang Bang On The Wall From Dusk Till Dawn
Year: 2021
Director: Frida Kempff
Stars: Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm, Villa Virtanen, Krister Kern, Alexander Salzberger, Charlotta Akerblom, Tobias Almborg, Emil Almen, Bengt Braskered, Karin de Frumerie, Nilla Hanson, Karin Holmberg, Bill Hugg, Christina Indrenius-Zalewski
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Molly (Cecilia Milocco) suffered a breakdown some time ago, and has been in a psychiatric hospital ever since, the ordeal causing her to lose her grip on reality. However, her doctors now believe she is sufficiently recovered to try living life on her own, albeit in an apartment where she can be checked up on, and so she leaves to take up residence in this block, though she does not know anyone there and has no friends left who could drop in and say hello. As one of the hottest Summers in years begins to take hold on the Swedish city, Molly settles for lolling around her new home, trying to keep cool - and then she hears it, an insistent knocking from the apartment above, someone banging on the floor. Is that someone trying to attract her attention?

And for what reason? Yet another entry in horror cinema's "woman going mad" subgenre, this Scandinavian effort was directed by erstwhile documentary maker Frida Kempff, here making her fictional feature debut for a picture that did the rounds of the festivals internationally thanks to its inescapably stylish appearance. There was also a running time that did not outstay its welcome, not even eighty minutes in duration, so you could slot this one into your busy schedule for about the same length of time it would take to watch a couple of TV episodes. Yet it did not come across as a televisual work, with a look that would have settled quite nicely on the silver screen, despite its preference for claustrophobic camera angles tight on the confused Molly.

It's not a spoiler to point out she quickly begins to believe those knocks are a distress call (they might be SOS in Morse Code - but then again they may not) and takes it upon herself to turn crusading busybody and investigate their provenance. There are only two or three apartments overhead which could be the site of the knocks, and of course when she ventures up to inquire about them she is met with largely polite confusion and denial, though that may be what they want her to think. There's Molly’s problem: she cannot trust her senses, and while there may be a horror occurring over her head, on the other hand it could be a horror occurring inside her head, and even to the last second of the drama we are unsure which state of affairs is relevant to the situation. Don't go expecting a pat resolution, as we may end the story in as much a state of madness as she is.

With that camera on her for almost the entire movie, Milocco had quite the burden on her shoulders, but no matter that she was something of an unknown despite being middle-aged in years, there was something of the then-recent panicky family crisis drama Krisha about the manner in which Kempff and her screenwriters (it was based on a book) set about immersing us in Molly's world. It really was beautifully shot by Hannes Krantz, using every trick in the book from drone shots to in camera effects to make the state of her psychosis something we could understand, but also fear for her safety and indeed the safety of others if she is indeed suffering multiple breaks. Every so often the past where she lost her girlfriend at the beach will intrude on her thoughts, and she keeps returning to it because she is so lonely and misses her, but also seemingly since it bolsters her resolve to expose the upstairs neighbour as a kidnapper. The police, aware of her history, won't believe her, and some may find the ambiguity and reliance on the skewed perception frustrating, but it was an achievement after a fashion, and Milocco was hard to look away from, her pinched features the pained focus throughout. Music by Martin Dirkov.

[FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment present Knocking on Digital Platforms 15th November 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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