Keanu Reeves on stranger danger
by James Dawson
KEANU REEVES plays the victim of a home invasion in the psychological horror movie Knock Knock. The actor, best known as Neo from The Matrix movies, plays a successful American architect with an artist wife and two adorable children. It’s the first time he’s played a parent on the big screen.
Though it’s Father Day, he’s got work to do, so while the rest of the family heads for the beach, he stays home and putters around with all his cool high-tech gadgets. At dark, he answers a knock at his door. It’s two gorgeous young ladies dressed for a party. He invites them in out of the rain. One thing leads to another and they’re soon enjoying a ménage à trois.
The next morning, he discovers the girls making a mess in his kitchen, and then makes the fatal mistake of asking them why they haven’t left yet. That’s when things take a sinister turn, and these previously fun chicks begin torturing the older guy by blackmailing him with a video of their previous night’s escapades. As with a similarly themed 2005 revenge thriller Hard Candy, the girls’ hold the hapless homeowner accountable for grievances they have against men over the next 24 hours.
The thriller is directed by horrormeister Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, the Hostel films) from a script he co-wrote with Nicolas Lopez, Guillermo Amoedo, Anthony Overman and Michael Ronald Ross. Starring alongside Reeves is Lorenza Izzo (The Green Inferno and Roth’s real-life wife), Ana De Armas, Aaron Burns and Colleen Camp, who also served as a producer on the film. Knock Knock was shot entirely in Chile, substituting for Southern California. In addition to its theatrical release, the thriller is available On Demand.
The 51-year-old actor knows a little something about home invasion. His house was broken into twice last year by female stalkers. Both culprits were caught and arrested. Looking at least 10 years younger than his physical age, Reeves is dressed in his usual all-black for an interview. He spoke about his attraction to the material, playing a victim and filming an emotional scene in the film where he compares the arrival of the girls at his doorstep to getting free pizza.
How many takes did you have to do with the free pizza rant? It seems like something you have to get worked up for.
Yeah. It was a really exciting moment to do that scene. We shot it twice, because the first time, I guess I wasn’t up for the task. And then we got to work on it because we got to we got to learn something from that. Afterwards, when I got back to the hotel, I was crying. I called Eli and I said, “Please, can I do another [take]?” There was a long pause on the phone and then Eli, being the great person and director that he is, said yes.
What did you feel like being the victim?
Playing the victim is fun in movies. (He laughs.) Eli created a great situation of trust, and Lorenza and Ana and I had such love for the material. We rehearsed in the house for a week and we really got to know each other and know our perspectives on the roles and really go over the limits and where was the fun. There is a seduction, yes, but what does that look like? And then there’s also comedy. It’s a thriller, and there are some really emotional scenes. It was great to get a chance to work together and to flesh out the project. It was such great material that I think we all had fun doing that.
What is like for you, as an actor, when you were reading it? What did you think of the behavior of the women? Have you known someone like that?
What do I think of their behavior? I thought they were really smart. I think because of the context of that they have done it before and then what roles were they decided to play with each other and what were they deciding to represent themselves as, and how that had nothing to do with who they really were. But it was who they were in the heart because they’re choosing to play those roles. So I thought it was just really smart and funny and emotional. Because there’s also, behind the whole thing, what’s true and not true. The only thing that’s really true is that we had that night.
Do you get more amped up sharing scenes with beautiful gorgeous newcomer actors such as Lorenza and Ana as opposed to Al Pacino with whom you starred in The Devil’s Advocate?
They’re so opposite. I mean the example would be comparing this to (the Roth-directed) The Green Inferno. You can’t even compare them. But they do have something in common, which is the horror. With Pacino, it was so extraordinary because I looked up to him as an actor. So, to get to act with one of your heroes, is very special. That being said, working with Pacino has this same thing as working with Ana and Lorenza. You’re there to tell the story and everything of who you are and your craft and your creativity go into that. So that’s cool. Also, just jumping into this film with Ana and Lorenza, it was just great to me. Everybody just loved the project and we enjoy each other’s company. It was fun.
When you were offered this project, did you ever any trepidation about working with someone like Eli Roth, who has such a reputation for making hardcore horror films?
Yeah. I don’t think I was the first choice for the role, but I’m really glad it came my way. When I heard that Eli Roth was interested in me for a role, I was really excited about that idea. In terms of the films that he had done in the past, that was, if anything, made it more cool. In terms of his art and what he is doing and what’s in that, it’s really interesting and entertaining. So I was really excited about reading the script, and then reading the script just was so fantastic. Hearing Eli, when he communicated his vision for the piece, I was really excited about that. Everything that I had hoped and thought of, Eli spoke about it in terms of his hopes and ambitions for the project had been realized. It doesn’t happen all the time that you go into something and then you’re watching it on the screen and you’re like, “Thank you.” We were able to work this out. So it was cool.
Why did you take on this role and also is it relatable to be around two crazy women?
I think it’s a great role. I liked the writing of the piece, the different tones of the film has, the comedy, the suspense, the thriller, the seduction. There are all of these really interesting chapters in it. And then for the character, I really liked that the family guy, the husband, the architect, everything is perfect, but is it? And then I liked how he never changes. He is unapologetic to the very end, even as it all comes crashing down on him. I like that he’s obstinate too, his righteousness. The movie is kind of impartial. But he is put under a magnifying glass and I think there are certain ways to look at the project at what he is being looked at. There are so many layers to the piece. It was fun to be an archeologist and to dig them up and to play them.
Can you talk about what this movie means in terms of getting into the psychology side of horror instead of just the dismemberment and things like that? But what is it in terms of getting inside the psyche? Is it scarier? Do you find you can scare yourself even more that way sometimes?
It’s interesting. This morning somebody was saying there’s a new Yelp for people where people can rate you and there’s no way to change it. I’ve heard that from four people.