Written with no prior knowledge of what’s going to be in the episode – I watch the ‘Next Time’ trailer and make sure I see, hear and read nothing else – and written immediately after my first viewing. This is my unfettered, emotional response to this week’s DOCTOR WHO fare.
I’ve enjoyed this series thus far (looking back on my reviews, it’s clear that ‘Smile’ was my favourite in the immediate aftermath), but I hadn’t had an episode where my immediate thought at the final credits was “Hell, yeah! I want to watch that again!”
‘Knock Knock’ had me gripping onto the sofa fabric like I was nine years old and this was an 18 certificate VHS I’d illiicitly sourced. It gripped me and squeezed at my nerve endings. There were a few moments where I actually had to contain a gasp so that I’d still look manly in front of Mrs Jameson.
And in a way I’m quite annoyed by that reaction.
I’m too much of an old school horror geek not to realise how derivative it all was. The old house, the creeky floorboards, the hormonally charged youths, the monster living in the walls, even thunder and lightning thrown into the mix for no other reason than as a horror movie cliché.
Even the ending, where the whole thing turns out to be the actions of a misguided little boy, was such a mainstay of STAR TREK that FUTURAMA actually spoofed it.
It’s all been done before.
But my word it was done well here.
The direction was superb. If the revitalised Hammer Horror isn’t on the phone to Bill Anderson’s agent this evening I’d be surprised.
The sound-mix was incredible – with every creak, knock and scritch calibrated to maximum scary effect. They were noises to get between your bones. Watching this without them, would be like watching JAWS without the ‘duh-duh duh-duh’.
The FX guys also deserve a cheer. Yes, making creepy-crawlies look creepy sounds like the kind of thing that should be a day’s work on a day when it’s early knock-off for the pub, but they made every one of those little lice menacing to every one of its eight, nine or ten legs. To see a group of them eat a person and then still make an isolated one look just as scary afterwards requires some skill.
Then there’s David Suchet. Obviously he wouldn’t be the weak link in any episode, but he really rose to the challenge here. Managing to be be creepy and tender and solicitous and dangerous all in one go. It was genuinely chilling to watch him regress to a little boy in his final scene. Without make-up or visual tricks, just as if that long-ago child was climbing up from within.
(And P-Cap was great and P-Mac was great, but that’s really starting to be a given. Although, has there ever been a series regular with less to do than Matt Lucas?)
I’m sure there are some old school horror fans (old school Doctor Who fans too) who will come down hard on this because it is so derivative, because it has been done so many times before. But take it from this old school horror fan (and old school Doctor Who fan), that if they’re done really well, the old scares are sometimes the best.
Is it Missy in that vault? Or is that too damned obvious now? It feels like the kind of thing Moffat would do, but only if there’s some big, grand twist attached.