Thursday, 22 July 2010

Someone’s Knocking At The Door

2009
Dir. Chad Ferrin

A group of young medical students begins to experiment with bizarre pharmaceutical research drugs while listening to therapy session tapes from the Seventies. On the tapes are interviews with homicidal couple John and Wilma Hopper (Ezra Buzzington and Elina Madison) - psychotic sexual deviants who claimed to be possessed by demons. Soon the group of students are pursued and raped to death by the shape-shifting Hoppers and their monstrous genitalia.

If the above synopsis sounds fucked up to you, you’re not alone! Someone’s Knocking at the Door is part of a new breed of horror flicks in which the source of the horror stems from the human body: monstrous, warped and shockingly mutated bodies featuring all manner of grotesque orifices and appendages. Essentially riffing on the likes of Teeth, Dead Girl, Ginger Snaps, Bad Biology and to an extent Jennifer’s Body, all of which actually follow on from where Cronenberg started off, Troma graduate Ferrin’s fourth feature also boasts all manner of horrific scenarios derived from the human body. Particularly during the act of sex.


While those films followed events from the confused and hapless protagonist’s (whose body it is raging out of control) perspective, Someone’s Knocking at the Door approaches similar subject matter from a different angle. Boasting graphic and sickening imagery not really seen since the outrageous viscera of Argento’s Mother of Tears and Jenifer, it features a couple of sexually deviant, shape-shifting psychos whose method of murdering their victims involves the utilisation of their monstrous genitalia to rape them to death. Barbara Creed must be positively cart-wheeling. The source of onscreen horror in this movie is no different from the others mentioned in that it is derived from aberrant bodies. Ravenous vaginas, alarmingly engorged penises and deadly libidos are the order of the day. Throw into the mix experimental drug use, relentlessly trippy visuals, head-meltingly psychotropic imagery, filthily black humour and a break-neck pace, et voila: Someone is indeed knocking on the door. And they’re not using their hand.


The ‘sex kills’ mantra of so many slasher movies throughout the years is taken to its shockingly graphic conclusion in this film. While not an exploration of the horror of the human body and what happens when it begins to change into something else, Someone‘s Knocking at the Door can still be considered a variant of the ‘body-horror’ sub-genre, and a memorable and shocking one at that. Opening with a highly disturbing and quite graphic male rape scene that immediately sets the nasty and bizarre tone, SKATD doesn’t hold back when it comes to visually arresting, eye-popping SFX. Unfolding as a deliriously ferocious throwback to 70s grindhouse splatter movies, it exhibits a genuinely hallucinatory and twistedly raw feel - aided by its low budget - as all manner of carnal and abhorrent sexual acts culminate in bloody death. As well as boasting plenty of its own ‘what the fuck!?’ moments, the film also finds time to slyly reference a few classics such as Evil Dead, Jacob's Ladder, Suspiria and Session 9.

A number of scenes prove particularly shocking and may even induce a little nervous laughter, especially the scene in which Meg (Andrea Rueda) is pursued through florescent-lit hospital corridors by the very naked and grossly obese Fuller (Terence Z. Stamp) who appears to have been resurrected from the dead complete with a grotesquely gigantic waggling penis. To add to the nightmarish nature of this scene, Ferrin accompanies it with an up-tempo and twisted pop song. Also rather shocking is the scene in which Annie (Silvia Spross) is chased through the woods after being abandoned by her boyfriend, only to be confronted by Wilma Hopper and her toothy clunge… Ouch. What happens next must be seen to be believed. In fact all of the furiously charged murder sequences possess an odd quality that may make the audience question how seriously they’re supposed to be taking proceedings. With every attack, and glimpse of a massive dick or chomping lady-place, the ludicrous factor receives another boost.


Blurring the boundaries between dreams, hallucinations and reality, the audience is also constantly thrown off balance by increasingly deranged events and a warped perspective that is never really reliable - all the way to the ever-so-slightly disappointing ‘twist’ ending. Testament to the movie’s effectiveness though, this doesn’t detract from the sleazy, wanton and downright provocative power it welds.

The dreamier than thou Noah Segan (who also served as producer) heads up a uniformly competent cast of sexy, nihilistic college kids and cameoing horror stalwarts such as Joe Pilato and Lew Temple, while Ferrin directs events with deranged glee. The off kilter, feverish and wholly appropriate score is courtesy of Brad Joseph Breeck and it incorporates, amongst other things, warped industrial soundscapes which add to the undeniable splatter-punk ethos of proceedings.

Nasty, twisted and unforgettable.

Someone’s Knocking At The Door is set to premiere in Ireland at the 2nd Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival in Belfast, Saturday 28th August.

11 comments:

Scare Sarah said...

Good god, well done for watching this for me! Sounds horrific... I'll look it up.

James said...

Hey Sarah, thanks for stopping by! I was asked to review this by a friend who plans to show it at a film festival in Belfast later this year. I had no idea what it was about - and had heard very little about it online... Which worked out for the best as I was so shocked (in a good way!) by it. Such a fucked up little film. I hearted it.

Atroxion said...

Woah, sounds pretty extreme. I'll definitely keep my eye out for this one, it should make for an interesting watch. Great review.

James said...

Yes Atroxion, it is pretty extreme! Without wishing to hype it up too much, I've never really seen anything quite like it in terms of its REALLY distrurbing imagery! ;o)

Trick or Treat Pete said...

This sounds really intense. I've seen Teeth, which was more humorous to me than anything else, and the gawd awful Teenage Caveman, both of which follow this trend that sex can literally kills you, and I ain't talking Susie's daddy catching you in her bedroom after school.
Great review, like I said, this film sounds really intense.
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

James said...

Hey Petunia,
It treads a VERY fine line I think! It is humorous, but in a very different way than Teeth - which I loved, too! NOt seen Teenage Caveman - is that the Larry Clarke movie??

TheGirlWhoLovesHorror said...

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Trick or Treat Pete said...

It is indeed a Larry Clark flick. It is AWFUL!! The story doesn't make much sense, the acting is TERRIBLE (to say the least) and it should be viewed with EXTREME CAUTION! I would rate it right up there with Skinned Deep, wait, I think it's worse than Skinned Deep, at least that movie had a Forrest J. Ackerman cameo.
Basically, the story is about a bunch of teenagers in a post apocalyptic future run away from their cave dwelling society where everything from reading to sex is not allowed. The kids run into two people in a half destroyed city who have been genetically altered in the past and when they have sex with you, you either explode or become like them. That's the story in a nutshell.
Hmmmm...I wonder if 1996's Killer Condom fits in this category?
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

James said...

Thanks so much GirlWhoLovesHorror! And big congrats on your own award - keep up the good work. ;o)

Petunia I have indeed heard of that Clarke film, though I've never seen it. Sounds, erm, INTERESTING! I generally quite like his stuff, though there's usually something quite icky about it. He does for teens what Cronenberg does for flesh.

Ryne said...

You had me at "grotesquely gigantic waggling penis."

James said...

Ha! Hope you get a chance to check this out, Ryne. Thanks for dropping by.