Natty Knocks

Natty Knocks brings together three contemporary horror icons – Robert Englund of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Bill Moseley of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Devil’s Rejects, and Danielle Harris, who played Jamie in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. That alone makes it noteworthy. Actually, it’s the only truly noteworthy thing about the movie, which is watchable, yet too old-fashioned to be scary.

Harris plays small-town real estate agent Diane Henderson. Her son Wyatt (Thomas Robie) and his friend Robby (Noen Perez) hatch a scheme to steal copper wire to sell for money. Her daughter Jolie (Channah Zeitung) gets caught up in that. It’s really just a plot manipulation to get the trio to take part in a local legend. Decades ago, a failed B-movie actress named Natty Knocks (Joey Bothwell) was murdered by the town’s women, whose husbands she traded sex for money. They decide to carry out an old prank where you knock on someone’s door nine times to suggest a vengeful Natty is outside.

Wyatt and Robby choose the creepy old house on their block. While looking through a small window in the front door, they spot Abner Honeywell (Moseley) inside, seemingly murdering a woman. Wyatt turns to his mother’s boss, Mr. Meredith (Englund), for help. Frequent family babysitter Britt (Charlotte Fountain-Jardim), to whom Wyatt tells what he saw, takes the information to police detective Leo Squares (Jason James Richter of Free Willy fame). Eventually, the teens learn the truth about Honeywell, who of course is connected to Natty.

As may be obvious by now, Natty Knocks spends an excess of time setting up its central scenario. The movie doesn’t even dip its toes into genuine horror until the final half-hour. Too much attention is given to the antics of the kids and the search to figure out who Honeywell is. When the horror does come, it’s fine, if not particularly terrifying.

The screenplay by Benjamin Olson cobbles together a lot of familiar, well-worn conventions. That may have been a deliberate attempt to achieve an old-school vibe. Nevertheless, in an era where the genre has given us bold, cutting-edge pictures like Hereditary, Terrifier 2, and the current Talk to Me, Natty Knocks can’t help feeling behind the times.

In fairness, director Dwight Little (Murder at 1600, Marked for Death) gives the film a professional look. The actors are appealing, as well, giving dedicated performances across the board. Seeing Englund, Moseley, and Harris together is fun for horror buffs. Natty Knocks simply lacks thrills and originality. With those three teaming up, you reasonably expect more terror than the movie delivers.

out of four

Natty Knocks is unrated, but contains adult language and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.