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Knock Knock [Grace Lambert & Noemi Gunea, UK, 2018]

Knock Knock is the zany comedy sketch dreamt up by London-based female comedy duo Cheap Thrills (Grace Lambert & Noemi Gunea). The short opens on Noemi, seen through the spyhole of the front door, as she zips around the living room carpet with a vacuum cleaner. With her hair wrapped up into a bun and face plastered ghostly white under a cleansing face mask, the comforts of her domestic ablutions are betrayed by the sound of a knock at the door. Immediately unnerved by this perceived intrusion, Noemi calls upon her housemate Grace to confirm whether or not the knock was actually heard.

The blonde-haired Grace ambles down the stairs, evidently the more relaxed of the two as she casually chomps on an apple whilst attending to her friend’s concern. What ensues is an amusing and farcical assortment of facial contortions rendered by the fish-eye perspective of the spy-hole, as they peer through it in an increasingly paranoiac attempt to figure out who is on the other side. Lambert is the obvious foil to the franticly comedic performance of Gunea, whose character – gangling and dressed all in black – is apparently a descendant of German Expressionist lineage, specifically conjuring the image of the somnambulist from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [F. W. Murnau, GER, 1920].

Who's there?

It is a neat trick filming the scene through a fish-eye lens, situating the viewer in the voyeuristic position of the person knocking at the door. However, in order for the gag to work entirely, one immediately has to do away with the disbelief that neither housemate understands how a spyhole works. Acknowledging this small detail, it does rather undermine the logic of the sketch, since the characters would be able to see who is knocking; the person (and thus the audience) on the other side wouldn’t be able to see in. (Perhaps who they need to see is their landlord/-lady).

Still, the conceptual premise upon which Knock Knock hangs is exploited to a visual degree rather than a logical one, and to this end it works extremely well, brimming with all the surreal energy and weird allure of British sketch comedies like the much revered The Mighty Boosh [UK, 1998–2009, 2013] and (the less appreciated) Smack the Pony [UK, 1999-2003]. With an existentialist structure at its core, the film concludes on a delightful note of optimistic nihilism involving a very funny dance to ‘Asereje’ by Las Ketchup. Yep! Seeing is believing…

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