My notes on Knackningar (Knocking)
Released from a psychiatric ward, Molly (Cecilia Milocco) – who has had a nervous collapse, brought on by grief over a relationship that has ended (it’s not clear how) – moves into an apartment in a large block … and is troubled by a knocking in the ceiling that apparently only she can hear, which might be morse code. She troubles her upstairs neighbours and the building superindtendent, and keeps taking steps that make it less likely she’ll be believed – calling the police when she sees a man dragging a woman into the building only for the couple to claim they just had a routine argument, and this black mark on her record to come up when she makes increasingly frequent calls about the knocking. When she goes in person to report a new development, it turns out that the cop who’s supposed to deal with it is one of the neighbours she’s already annoyed. Still, perhaps because her past trauma is rooted in an action she once failed to take, she persists … at the risk of harm to herself, her neighbours, and even the building.
Frida Kempff’s short, intense paranoia movie – scripted by Emma Broström and Johan Theorin – is a mash-up of Rear Window and Repulsion. It doesn’t so much have a plot premise as a nagging itch it keeps scratching – that knocking isn’t even loud enough to irritate the audience, though it plainly gets into Molly’s head and won’t leave. Late in the film, we learn that something we have been hearing throughout actually is in the heroine’s mind – but it’s not the knocking. Those who know a) Swedish and b) Morse might get a sense of where this is going, but though plot closure comes – again, in a form we might question since we (and Molly) only hears it and we don’t know if we can trust that – the film is really carried by Milocco. Kempff often plonks Molly’s face centre screen, as if the camera were attached to her, and lets the performance take over completely – Milocco’s Molly is tiny, intense, affecting, irritating, determined and maybe dangerous, but she’s also compelling.
Here’s the Frightfest listing.
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