Knocking examines how the reputation of the mentally ill forever precedes them. Cecilia Milocco’s Molly leaves the psychiatric ward but to larger society she never left… And is not to be believed. Healed yet isolated.
This article contains spoilers for Knocking (original film title: Knackningar).
Cecilia Milocco’s Molly is the epitome of unreliable protagonist, a recently freed psych ward patient. Mild mannered, seemingly good intentioned, and still exhibiting symptoms of her former life. There are times where Molly sees or hears things that are not there and never were. Often in Swedish Director Frida Kempff’s film you’ll find yourself wondering if Molly truly is ‘crazy’.
The basis of the picture is Molly hearing a constant knocking sound above her apartment, driving her to a relentless panic. A borderline pure state of madness. This knocking sound later transforms to an audible but faint female voice crying for help.
This pushes Molly to call the police on a suspicious neighbor who has an argument with his girlfriend in her building’s courtyard. However, the couple claims it was just a regular argument and nothing more to the officers. Damaging Molly’s credibility as a reliable witness.
Her background as a former psych ward patient lending no favors. An officer recommends she drink more water in this heat instead.
The police lose faith in her after this night and when Molly calls 112 (the emergency number in Sweden) the next day… She is dropped. In fact, Molly is told if she ever calls the number again, the service will be disconnected for wasting their time with non-emergencies.
Lost Sanity: Knocking’s Standout Scene
When Cecilia Milocco’s Molly is left stranded on her own, she decides to take matters into her own hands in Knocking. In the twilight hours of the night Molly confronts the neighbors above her floor as they scramble to call the police. This is Director Frida Kempff best shot scene in Knocking. You can feel Molly descend into a borderline psychosis as the camera frantically shakes with every scream.
Molly appears backed into a corner like a wounded animal, yelling “Don’t touch me”. Proclaiming ever more fervently that she’s fine. Sensing the walls closing in on her, she takes a leap of faith and invades a neighbor’s apartment.
On the way to a locked room, she picks up an antique hunting knife at the neighbor’s residence. Molly demands her neighbor open the door to the room immediatley and though initially refusing, he eventually relents out of fear.
Inside is the neighbor’s disabled mother… Molly finds herself back at square one, the psychiatric ward. Even the doctor who she believed to be checking up on her daily turns out to be a figment of her imagination.
Molly escapes the psychiatric ward rather easily and taunted as a ‘psycho’ by casual drivers who see her walking in a white psych uniform. Viewer faith in Molly is at its lowest here… Yet through a fire in her apartment building, it’s discovered she didn’t imagine the knocking sounds after all. There really was a woman being held captive in chains above her apartment.
This ending captures that just because a reputation biases us, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Or even a Chapter. Yet, we’re destined to see a new page not as a blank slate but anchored to the cover in front of it.
Knocking previously played at the 2021 Sundance film festival as part of the Midnight section. It’s Director Frida Kempff’s feature film narrative debut. Lead actress (Molly) Cecilia Milocco is also starring in a short film Efter barnen which is currently listed as completed on IMDB.
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