With a stellar horror pedigree, “Natty Knocks” is worth a watch — just don’t expect much emphasis on genuine horror or scares.
Natty Knocks’ premise sounds like a typical and unoriginal slasher:
“On Halloween Eve, a small-town babysitter and the kids she is looking after must survive the horrors of serial killer Abner Honeywell.”
It was the cast that caused me to give it a watch. Featuring three horror icons, Robert Englund, Bill Moseley, and Danielle Harris, made it a must-see for me. Besides, I’m always on the lookout for a good Halloween-themed horror movie.
The synopsis promises a formulaic slasher that I figured the stellar cast would make entertaining.
Written by Benjamin Olson and directed by Dwight H. Little (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers), Natty Knocks takes classic horror elements and combines them into a mystery.
During the Halloween season, a serial killer hides in plain sight in a small town. Natty Knocks (played by three actresses, Anuschka van Lent, Joey Bothwell, and Trista Robinson) is a local woman hunted down and burned by an angry mob of women. For what? We find out during the course of the movie.
In the years since her death, Natty Knocks has become an urban legend.
It’s the Halloween season, and we’re introduced to the Henderson family: mother Diane (Harris) and her children, teen Wyatt (Thomas Robie) and his younger sister Jolie (Channah Zeitung). Diane is a real estate agent and a stressed-out single parent going through a divorce. Diane leaves local teen Britt (Charlotte Fountain-Jardim) in charge of the kids.
In a typical horror movie scenario, the kids, along with their friend Robby (Noen Perez), decide to play a Halloween prank. They play Natty Knocks, a game that involves knocking on a door and running away. However, Wyatt witnesses a murder inside the house.
What I watched really isn’t a slasher but more of a mystery, an urban legend slowly revealed to have basis in fact.
The core mystery surrounds a man, Abner Honeywell (Moseley), who has taken up residence in an abandoned house with a horrific backstory. It’s slowly revealed who the man is and why he’s taking up residence in the house.
It’s also eventually revealed who Natty Knocks is. Apparently, she’s become an urban legend, part of local lore, but the young kids who evoke her name on Halloween and play the Natty Knocks prank have no idea that she is a real person.
While the backstory is interesting, the big reveal about Honeywell is predictable.
Writing-wise, the story is a patchwork of classic Halloween tales: an urban legend that involves a local murder, an escapee from a mental hospital during the Halloween season, and a babysitter who finds herself in the center of it all.
While the film is entertaining, it lacks genuine scares.
The most disturbing parts are Natty Knocks’ lynching by the locals and Moseley’s scenes as he menaces his captives.
Natty Knocks promises a Halloween-themed movie, but there’s not enough Halloween in this movie for me. It lacks the autumn chill of John Carpenter’s Halloween or Michael Dougherty’s Trick r Treat. In those films, every scene is saturated in seasonal lore and imagery.
However, the cast makes up for the film’s lack of originality and atmosphere.
Bill Moseley is delightfully demented as Honeywell. Englund, as always, delivers a strong and entertaining performance as Diane’s colleague, fellow real estate agent, Mr. Meredith.
If you are a classic horror fan, seeing Moseley and Englund on screen together with Harris is worth giving this movie a watch.