A witch, a predator in the walls, and an unstoppable killing machine. You’ve been there and done all that…but is it worth doing again? A quick rundown of Don’t Knock Twice, Havenhurst, and Legacy of Thorn.
DON’T KNOCK TWICE (2016)
The plot of Don’t Knock Twice seems to have been “borrowed” and split into two different films – NeverKnock and House of the Witch – to fill the SyFy channel’s October 2017 Halloween schedule. It also feels oddly familiar if you’ve already seen the full-length movie version of Lights Out. And it has been turned into a video game for the PS4.
A teen with a troubled existence knocks twice on the door of a supposed witch she believes is responsible for the disappearance of one of her friends.
In doing so, she brings the witch along with her when she returns home to her mom. Mom and daughter spend the rest of the film running around their house trying to avoid the dark, because it appears the witch only comes and gets you when you turn the lights out.
Hello? Who’s there? Lights Out, is that you?
What more can I say? It’s modern tween horror: simple premise, creepy witch, lots of jump scares and spooky shadows. At one point the witch pops out and literally yells “RAAAH!”
Okay, she might be saying “RUN!,” but it reminded me of when I was ten and me and my brothers would jump out at each other from around corners in our house—and of me now at 48 doing the same thing to my hubby. RAAAH!
Havenhurst might as well be titled Toolbox Murders 3. And I mean that in the most flattering way, because it’s just as much fun as the Toolbox Murders remake was, even if it does leave you with endless unanswered questions by the end.
The intro scene totally gets you in the mood for a classic “killer hiding in the walls” scenario.
Danielle Harris makes a brief appearance in this fast and furious segment, which ironically gave me flashbacks to the first kill in Rob Zombie’s Halloween.
Next, Julie Benz, Darla of Angel and Buffy fame, moves into her friend Danielle’s vacated apartment (Danielle’s character name is Danielle). We learn the entire apartment building is a “safe haven” for recovering addicts. Julie is determined to find out what happened to her evicted friend while struggling not to hit the bottle.
Pretty soon, her neighbors are being chased, brutally thrown around, and murdered in their apartments by a killer that looks like a leather daddy in the shadows, which makes sense considering it’s horror hottie Douglas Tait.
With secret passages, trap doors, and fleeting glimpses of the killer, it’s all familiar territory, but what makes Havenhurst work is that it’s done right. It’s creepy and atmospheric, with just the right amount of gore, a menacing baddie, and a wild final chase and fight sequence. Julie Benz as the main girl is the icing on the cake. I totally added this one to my DVD collection.
LEGACY OF THORN (2016)
Whenever I get a chance, I check out one of MJ Dixon’s horror flicks, especially since the killers in each of his movies comes full circle in his film Slasher House. “Thorn” is one of my favorite killers in that film, so I was looking forward to this one.
I’d say it’s visually his tightest feature film so far, as it’s much more polished than the others. The killer is great, the action, kills, scares, and suspense are great.
The troubling part for me is that the timeline leaps back and forth repeatedly between the present and four years ago…”leap” being the operative word considering February 29th plays a crucial part in the film. Just don’t ask me why or what it means.
Basically, a bunch of high school kids was stalked and hacked up 4 years ago. Now, the main girl and her friends are trying to lure the killer so they can off him. Either my sense of the timeline was totally off or no one died the first time, because the characters from the two time periods look the same to me–just in different tints.
This had me convinced the whole “now” is solely in the main girl’s head. Everything that happens in the past is essentially mirrored in the now, almost like the main girl is sort of “reliving” what she already went through but hoping for a different ending this time.
The repetitive back and forth time jumps go on continuously through the whole movie, and we feel like everyone has pieces of information that are supposed to make the plot logical, they just never share it with us.
The other uber frustrating thing about the film is that every time, without a doubt, the characters just stand there arguing or whimpering as the killer approaches them instead of running. Forget frustrating. it’s infuriating.
The standout scene is the one that pretty much breaks the mold; the killer enters a gym and goes to town on all the cheerleaders. It’s the scene in the trailer that had me psyched about this one.
The conclusion is as confusing as everything that happens before it…not to mention, the film almost seems to be paying homage to – or flat out stealing the plot from – Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. Engineered or evil organization-manufactured killers seem to be a thing these days. The film sort of reminded me of the Playing with Dolls franchise in that respect.
The tag is intriguing if you’ve been following Dixon’s movies, and it definitely makes you want to see his future films in hopes that this will all make sense at some point.