Eli Roth Talks Knock Knock and Incorporating Technology in Films

With the Cannibal Holocaust homage Green Inferno still in theaters, writer/director Eli Roth is already supporting the release of his newest film – the erotic thriller Knock, Knock. A quasi remake of the 1977 film Death Game, Knock, Knock tells the story of two beautiful – albeit totally unhinged – women who seductively test the boundaries of a “happily” married man. Only, with potentially deadly consequences.

A thrilling, over-sexed meditation on men’s basic programming, Knock, Knock finds Roth operating at his least bloody and most character-driven. We had the opportunity to geek out with Roth about sex and technology in the modern age – and get his perspective on fidelity and temptation as a newly-married, forty-something man!

You made Keanu Reeves into the best Survivor Girl ever!

I think Keanu should be nominated for Best Actor for this movie.

What does Knock, Knock ultimately say about men and how they’re hardwired. Is it evolutionary? Is it men in their 40’s just settling into a certain life?

I’m in my early 40’s and I didn’t get married until nine months ago. And a lot of my friends who got married in their early 20’s, I watched their relationships fall apart. They settled for a life that maybe they thought they were supposed to have. I’d go, “Why did you do it if you were unhappy or cheating?” And they’d all say, “I thought it was what I was supposed to do.” I love the idea of a character who thinks his life is happy – but if you look closely, there’s cracks in the facade. And it all comes back to the idea of free pizza– that if a free pizza shows up at two in the morning, all guys are gonna take the pizza if they can get away with it. And the girls believe that, too. Even with the wedding ring and the photos on the wall – it’s all bullshit, that all men are basically animals…

My feeling is that if you’re unhappy in a relationship, it’s going to come out in your behavior. Whether you admit it or not, you’re going to do something. Even recently, the Ashley Madison hack happens and there’s 37 million people paying money to have an affair because there’s something missing in their relationship… Now, with technology, there’s no privacy any more. In the times of Fatal Attraction, if you cheated on your wife, maybe your wife found out, your bunny got boiled. But now, it’s literally broadcast for everyone to see. There’s no closing Pandora’s Box. Also, the generational difference. What a guy in their 40’s and a girl in their teens is going to think they can use social media for. A guy in their 40’s is gonna share pictures of their kids, maybe say hi to their friends; but somebody 20-25 years younger is gonna have a completely different psychology about what to use those apps for.

Eli Roth and Keanu Reeves on the Knock Knock set
Eli Roth and Keanu Reeves on the Knock Knock set

Exactly! Like when Evan orders the Uber, it’s a newer technology.

Hostel was the first movie that used text messaging and sending pictures as a plot point. And when we did it, we were like, “Wow, this is so futuristic!” Even when I made Hemlock Grove, we got Apple’s permission to use iPhones and to use the sounds… We wanted to make technology so you have it, okay, the girls show up in a rainstorm? Call an Uber! My phone got wet? Go on Facebook. But really, they’re just scoping out his Facebook; they’re looking around. I like incorporating technology, but, of course, that goes to Evan’s detriment by the end of the film.

You treat sexual like traditional horror tension in this movie. How as a writer/director did you treat those early scenes to work in tandem?

I really wanted to show that I’m an actor’s director and write characters that could give somebody such an incredible opportunity to show their range. With Keanu, people know him primarily as an action star and knock him unfairly as an actor a lot. I think he’s incredible. Think of how funny he is in Bill & Ted or charming in the Nancy Meyers’ movie. This is the first time he’s ever played a dad. When we were writing it, we kept thinking, the first forty-five minutes, it’s gonna be boring; we gotta build up the sex. But I really, really wanted to make it about the performance… Lorenza is so different in Knock, Knock than she was in Green Inferno where she’s this innocent college student. And here, she’s a sociopath… Everything they’re saying, nobody’s telling the truth. It’s all a calculation. It’s all to get closer; it’s all to invade his space…

And the sex scene, I didn’t want it to be beautiful or romantic. It’s almost like the end of Fire Walk With Me. The sex scene, I shot like a scene from a horror movie. It’s dark, it’s animalistic, and then, the next morning, it’s like two raccoons are in his kitchen.

Next: Keanu Reeves Talks Bill & Ted 3, Knock Knock & John Wick 2

When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Knock Knock is in theaters and On Demand as of October 9, 2015.

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