In horror movies and psychological thrillers, shrinks are always discharging their institutionalized patients a little too soon. Will poor Molly be another? She suffered a nervous breakdown after a vaguely implied personal tragedy, but now her doctor thinks she is ready to rejoin the outside world. As luck would have it, they secured a flat for her in the Gaslight Arms. However, the persistent rapping noise she hears in her new apartment might just drive her mad (for good) in Frida Kemff’s Knocking, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Molly had her apprehensions, but she was still mostly happy to get away from the dreary institution. Unfortunately, she has no support network of family of friends waiting for her. Molly is basically alone in her apartment, with nobody to confirm the strange knocking noises she starts to hear. Her neighbors are all suspicious-acting characters, who claim they can’t hear any such noises and don’t want to be bothered in any event.
As they persist, Molly latches onto the notion they could be a call for help in Morse Code, from a captive being held somewhere in the building. Of course, when she reaches out to the cops, it goes rather badly. It gets even worse during her subsequent attempts. Everyone thinks she is just crazy, including maybe even us, the viewers.
Cecilia Milocco really is terrific as Molly. This is a harrowing portrayal of a vulnerable woman wrestling with guilt, isolation, paranoia, and fear. There is no one she can trust in this film, not even herself. Milocco and Kemff vividly convey a sense of her extreme alienation, in every sense.