REVIEW: THEY COME KNOCKING makes an attempt to spin a new kind of ghost story for Father’s Day.


Blumhouse’s latest for Hulu’s monthly Into The Dark series melds elements of The Hills Have Eyes & Poltergeist but suffers from largely unlikeable characters acting against their own best interests to the nth degree.

Upon the first watch of They Come Knocking, the June entry from Hulu and Blumhouse’s monthly horror film series Into The Dark, you’d be hard pressed to argue against the proposition that writers Shane and Carey Van Dyke really like the premise of Wes Craven’s 1977 survival horror classic, The Hills Have Eyes. What happens when you mix the premise of that film with an intelligent, pervasive entity haunting down a family, not unlike Poltergeist or The Amityville Horror? Well, you get something close to what They Come Knocking is aspiring to be, but falls short of really achieving.

They Come Knocking starts Clayne Crawford (formerly Riggs on Fox’s TV remake of Lethal Weapon) as Nathan, the patriarch of a family of 2 daughters, Claire (Josephine Langford) and Maggie (Lia McHugh). The family undertakes a road trip following the death of their wife and mother, Val (Teen Witch’s Robyn Lively). The trip is following a road trip undertaken by Nathan and Val in their youth to spread her ashes at the end of it. However, their mother’s illness has caused friction and a distance between the family; Maggie won’t even call Nathan dad, he’s just Nathan, while Claire retreats into her world of dolls where she has an element of some control. Meanwhile, during their trip, they keep coming across missing child posters and a sense of dread. At one point, they park their RV for the night and their car is vandalized and they start being menaced by masked children asking them to let them into their RV.

At this point, the film becomes not unlike Poltergeist 2, with these children, or what appears to be children, exposing themselves as the threat they are. At that point, we realize these aren’t children, but creatures that can take the shape of what you need to see or fear to get their way. The most effective scene in the film comes here where all 3 family members are in different enclosed spaces all being lured to let in a different version of a creature wearing the face and body of their deceased mother.

As intriguing as the premise sounds, the acting and characterization let the film down from really achieving its potential. Unlike last month’s entry, All That We Destroy, which we really liked for its strong character work, They Come Knocking gives us 3 characters we really don’t like. Nathan comes across throughout the film as someone who is too cool to be in the room, this comes down to Crawford’s performance which is equal parts detached and phoned-in. Langford as Claire just isn’t giving any compelling dialogue or character moments, so she comes off as a bitchy shrew who is busting her dad’s balls and driving her little sister into depression. McHugh’s Maggie is one of those characters you hate in the movie who is there just to cry and make bad decisions. She’s the Franklin of Texas Chainsaw Massacre of this film. Lively gets a lot to do as different manifestations of her character Val and probably gets the most room to really explore her role that anyone in the film does.

Ultimately, They Come Knocking has an interesting concept and premise, but really doesn’t execute it. While this could be the love child of The Beyond and Hills Have Eyes, it comes across out of the blue as more of a low budget Twilight Zone episode about the importance of letting go of lost loved ones.