Someone’s Knocking At The Door

2009
Dir. Chad Ferrin

A group of young medical students 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 essentially raped to death by the shape-shifting Hoppers and their monstrous genitalia.

If the above synopsis sounds pretty fucked up to you, you’re not alone! Someone’s Knocking at the Door is part of a 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 monstrous appendages. While he ups the absurd factor and ludicrous, comedic tone, Troma graduate Ferrins' essentially riffs on the likes of Frank Henenlotter's Bad Biology and, well, most of David Cronenberg's back catalogue actually (without Cronenberg's intellectual approach).

While those films focused on 'body horror' and followed events from the perspective of a confused and hapless protagonist (whose body is raging and changing out of control), Someone’s Knocking at the Door approaches similar body-horror subject matter from a different angle. Boasting graphic and startling imagery rather akin to 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. The source of onscreen horror in this movie is derived from the depiction of 'aberrant' bodies. Ravenous, toothy vaginas, freakishly large penises and deadly libidos are the order of the day. Throw into the mix experimental drug use, relentlessly trippy visuals, head-meltingly psychotropic imagery, filthy humour and a break-neck pace, et voila. I shudder to think what someone is knocking at the door with.



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 (a la adolescence or lycanthropy), Someone‘s Knocking at the Door can still be considered a variant of the ‘body-horror’ sub-genre. Opening with a disturbing and graphic scene in which medical student Ray (Jordan Lawson) is raped and murdered by a shapeshifting man with a clownishly large penis, the nasty and bizarre tone is set. SKATD doesn’t hold back when it comes to eye-popping SFX. Unfolding as a deliriously ferocious throwback to 70s grindhouse splatter movies, it exhibits a 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 beloved titles such as Evil Dead, Jacob's Ladder, Teeth, Suspiria and Session 9.

A number of scenes prove particularly jaw-on-the-floor shocking, 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 vagina dentata. All of the furiously charged murder sequences possess a certain odd quality that may make the audience question how seriously they’re supposed to be taking proceedings. Not very, me thinks. With every attack, and glimpse of grotesque genitalia, 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 wields.

Noah Segan (who also served as producer) heads up a cast including 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.

Comments

Scare Sarah said…
Good god, well done for watching this for me! Sounds horrific... I'll look it up.
James Gracey 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.
Andrei 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 Gracey 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)
Anonymous 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 Gracey 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??
Your blog deserves an award so I gave you one. Get it here: http://thegirlwholoveshorror.blogspot.com/
Anonymous 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 Gracey 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.
Unknown said…
You had me at "grotesquely gigantic waggling penis."
James Gracey said…
Ha! Hope you get a chance to check this out, Ryne. Thanks for dropping by.

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