Natty Knocks (Movie Review)

Released on July 21st through Vertical, Natty Knocks marks the return of director Dwight H. Little to feature-length Horror for the first time since 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Additionally, it features a cast of well known names in Horror; this includes Robert Englund, Danielle Harris, and Bill Moseley. So, how does it fair?

Well, Natty Knocks takes a number of Horror tropes and uses them to different degrees of effectiveness, but mostly falls short of what it wants to accomplish. In this story, a small town’s legend of an accused witch’s lynching in the ’70s is the catalyst for various villainous happenings nearly 50 years later, and an unsuspecting, dysfunctional family caught up in the danger.

The premise itself is a bit shaky, as witch burnings are not the sort of thing that happened in small town America in the ’70s. But even accepting that as the macGuffin it is, the story is pulled in a few different directions and loses itself. The legend of the titular character, who was a famed B-movie actress in her prime turned small town sex worker when that ended, is distant throughout most of the film, which instead focuses on a serial killer stalking the town during Halloween season.

Natty Knocks / Vertical (2023)

A family consisting of single mom Diane (Harris: Halloween 4, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead 1991), older sibling Wyatt (Thomas Robie: Stalker series, Insidious: The Last Key 2018), and young daughter Jolie (Channah Zeitung: Game Shakers series, Danger Force series) are the main characters, along with babysitter Brit (Charlotte Fountain-Jardim: Evil Lives Here series). The other major character is Abner Honeywell (Moseley: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1986, House of 1,000 Corpses 2003), the killer with a secret. When Wyatt and his friend plan to steal copper wire for profit, it sets into motion the whole family’s involvement with Honeywell and other small town drama. 

The main problem with Natty Knocks is that it just isn’t scary. Additionally, the dialogue isn’t the best, however, the family do have good chemistry with each other and make the most of it. Tonally, the script is far more toward the side of a teen Horror film than anything serious, and could be an extended episode of something akin to Are You Afraid of the Dark. There’s a twist everyone sees coming a mile away, and a payoff that feels both long delayed and underwhelming, and makes the slow pacing of the story more frustrating than it had to be.

Natty Knocks / Vertical (2023)

However, what the movie does have going for it is good casting and performances. Bill Mosley can be a very intimidating presence, as we’ve learned with his work with Rob Zombie, and he does well here in a role that is mostly speechless. His non-verbal acting is quite scary, as is his ability to switch to inconspicuous town cop. Horror legend Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984, The Mangler 1995) also shows up in a supporting role, mostly as an exposition dump that is both welcome and needed among the rest. Danielle Harris, who was in Halloween 4 as a child, returns to work with Little again 35 years later and does a solid job as the struggling single mom. Those three actors elevate a less than average script to a watchable level. There is also good support from Indian Television Actor Amit Sarin (Pavitra Rishta series, Between Mountains 2022), who also knows how to maximize his minutes.

Overall, Natty Knocks doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It’s part ghost story, part slasher, and part teen horror movie… but doesn’t fit any of those very well. Perhaps a commitment to a harder slasher or, if they didn’t want to go in that direction, a more campy feel to compliment the kids who are front and center for most of the film, might have worked better. It’s not terrible, but not exactly good either, and is fortunate that the good actors they cast were able to bring this story up from the depths where it just may have ended up without them. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Natty Knocks 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Natty Knocks / Vertical (2023)

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1 Comment

  • I love good horror/supernatural films. I grew up with A Nightmare on Elm Street and the like on video. I did not love this (nor remotely like it, like even in the slightest, at all).

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