Knackningar [Knocking] (2021)

Director: Frida Kempff
Writer: Emma Broström
Based on: Johan Theorin‘s novel
Cast: Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm, Ville Virtanen, Krister Kern, Alexander Salzberger, Charlotta Åkerblom
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 17.6.2021

Molly (Cecilia Milocco) was just released from a psychiatric facility where she had to spend some time after a personal tragedy. She’s still fragile, but ready to face the world again. She moves into a small appartment and tries to get comfortable there. But not only is a heatwave weighing on her, Molly keeps hearing strange knocking in her apartment – knocking that nobody else seems to hear but that she is convinced is a call for help.

Knackningar is a strong film that manages to draw you into Molly’s paranoia, and keeps a clear eye on power dynamics. A really great start for the spring edition of the SLASH film festival.

The film poster showing a close-up of Molly (Cecilia Milocco) in profile. There is only a small shaft of light on her eye and cheek, and in that shaft is the shape of a woman who is falling.

Knackningar manages to build a great atmosphere. Both the heatwave and the knocking (awesome sound design), paired with Molly’s fragile state (perfectly portrayed by Milocco) and evocative lighting make for an unsettling film and Kempff perfectly captures that (particularly impressive since this is her first feature). Thus the film easily draws you into Molly’s world, and that is a world that keeps telling Molly that she can’t possibly be right about her experiences. And since there are things that make Molly rightfully doubt her own perception, it’s no wonder that she and you start wondering whether the world isn’t right. (Fortunately at the end of the film, we get a solution.)

It’s here also that the film works with the fact that Molly is a woman struggling with mental health issues. As both a woman and a mentally ill person, the men around her constantly tell her that she must be wrong (starting with the scene where she simply wants to buy some fruit). When she isn’t dismissed outright, she is being condescended to. It’s frustrating and Molly’s frustrated reaction serves to reinforce the dismissal.

Molly (Cecilia Milocco) looking at her ceiling, her mouth open as if screaming.

I loved the way the film handles Molly’s backstory. Not only because we get presented a queer relationship with a refreshing non-chalance, but the tragic aspect of it is emotionally included in the film in full force, without it ever feeling exploitative.

In short, Knocking is a strong film that really draws you in. The ending might be a tad cheesy, but that doesn’t change the fact that the film grabs you and doesn’t let you go until it is well and ready to.

Molly (Cecilia Milocco) in the bathtub with running make-up.

Summarizing: really good.

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