Molly (Cecilia Milocco) has been discharged from the psychiatric ward, where she has been treated. She moves into her new apartment, hoping to start afresh from the trauma that landed her in the hospital. At night, she’s disturbed by a knocking coming from the flat above. The owner denies making the noise and hasn’t heard anything. A couple has a violent argument on the street, but when she gets the police involved as she fears for the woman’s safety, they refuse to acknowledge anything. Is she cracking up, or is something more sinister going on?
This Swedish psychological drama directed by Frida Kempff is a stifling, claustrophobic nightmare, particularly for those of us who have rarely seen outside our houses in the past year. As Molly leaves her hospital for the first time in a while, we see her reticence to leave the shadow of the building, unsure of what lies out there. The film is shot with a similar sense of nervous tension. Close-ups dominate, and small details like the graffiti in the lift, sweat on a brow, and flies buzzing near windows become a focus. The clammy heat burns through the screen. It’s oppressive before anything happens. When it does, we’re never sure if she’s a victim of gaslighting or we have an unreliable narrator.
Knocking does remarkably well to put us in the unsure shoes of someone struggling with their mental health. Much like Polanski’s Repulsion, there are many layers to unpick, and Milocco’s performance is impeccable. She expresses the character’s self-doubt and anxiety but is not afraid to do the right thing if she thinks something wrong happens. It’s a smouldering slow-burn of a movie that will linger in your mind for some time.
FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment release KNOCKING on Digital Platforms and is available to stream on Shudder.