Robert’s Review: The Night They Knocked (2020)

ATMOSfx! Woo!

★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Don’tcha hate it when a gang of crazies interrupts your relaxing weekend at a remote cabin with an unexpected home invasion?

Directed by Sean Roberts

First off, a big Thank You to writer/director Sean Roberts for giving us a peek at his brand new film, The Night They Knocked. It’s always fun to see what up-and-coming filmmakers are putting out these days and the loonies here at The Scariest Things Sanitarium like nothing better than helping get the word out about new horror movies!

The Night They Knocked is Roberts’ third film, but his very first horror movie. Welcome to the genre, Sean!

The movie follows the weekend activities of a group of soon-to-be college grads as they gather at a remote cabin for what may be their last party together. I mean, because of going their separate ways after graduation; not the pack of homicidal home invaders. But also because of them.

Not that our pack of pals expects their home to be invaded. If they did, they’d probably have left all their personal drama behind and focused more on merrymaking. From a surprise pregnancy to the return of a recently paroled sibling, the weekend is full of emotional happenings. As tensions rise inside the house, no one but the audience seems to be paying attention to the radio’s increasingly frequent warnings about the horrific violence occurring in the neighborhood.

Acting in The Night They Knocked can be a bit rough around the edges at times, but no more than many micro-budget productions. Jack Buckley [Traffickers (2015)] as the wayward older brother and Connor Roberts [Traffickers (2015)] as the main maniac, “Pogo,” definitely set themselves apart as the ones to watch.

While the film isn’t brimming with special effects, once the action gets going we’re treated to some decent-looking practical makeup effects. Kudos to the effects crüe!

Jack Buckley

It’s the “once the action gets going” part that may have some viewers wondering how post-college angst fits into the horror genre. The lion’s share of the film is devoted to the interpersonal interactions between our cabin-dwelling friends. The radio announcements and occasional bumps in the night are likely meant to ramp up the tension; turning the film into a classic “slow burn” affair, but the pacing doesn’t quite cut the proverbial mustard. Extended scenes of people washing dishes or actor-less shots of the porch light had me checking my watch instead of gripping the arms of my chair.

When the bad guys do show up and Connor Roberts’ on-screen charisma takes over, though, it’s like a whole new movie. Sure, there’s a maniac in a dress à la Incident In A Ghostland (2018) and the primary bad guy wears clown makeup just like… well, every movie since zombies jumped the shark, but he was one of my favorite characters here so we’re letting it slide.

To put it into terms all you ol’ timey prospectors can understand, The Night They Knocked is like finding a piece of quartz containing tiny flecks of gold. It’s pretty cool on its own but, if you keep checking out where it came from, the next thing you find might be a straight up gold nugget.

The Night They Knocked is currently making the rounds on the festival circuit. Thanks, again, to Sean Roberts for letting us take the movie for a spin. Good luck in the festivals and we look forward to checking out your next genre project!

Review by Robert Zilbauer.

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