What ‘Knock Knock’ says about men acting on impulse

So here’s the situation: you are a man, you are alone and will be for a couple of days, it’s a rainy night, and you have nothing more productive to do than finish some work. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. While you really should inspect what’s outside from a peephole or upstairs window, you instead open the door to the sight of two young, lovely women.

They are wet, they are cold, they are barely dressed, and they are lost. Their phones are dead and they just need some help getting a ride to their intended destination. What do you do?

This is an important question because the answer probably changes a bit depending on a number of factors like race, gender, attractiveness, or your present mood. And if so, that doesn’t make you racist or sexist or a bad person. As human beings we are naturally cautious of others based on our past experiences.

As a black man that grew up living in a much rougher Atlanta neighborhood than the one I’m in now, my experience tells me that casually opening my door puts me at risk. But if I grew up in the suburbs or owned a nice home in an affluent community, I would probably think differently. And if I were Keanu Reeves’ character Evan Webber from Knock Knock, I would probably make the same mistake he did.

Knock Knock is a film about Evan, a man that allows two women, Genesis and Bel, into his home after they get lost looking for the address of a party. The intentions of both sides initially seem good. But then conversation leads to Evan showing off his DJ skills, music leads to Evan getting a little too close to Bel, and before we know it the women are sharing a shower before ultimately sharing Evan’s penis.

Little does Evan realize, the two women are actually testing his will and are set to punish him for giving into temptation. There were enough signs to suggest the arrival of these women was strange. And certainly things don’t get this far without Evan doing some stupid shit. But even as I watched Evan eventually be tortured and tormented for his decision, I kept thinking to myself “I understand.”

Because regardless of how cautious I am or what my past experiences tell me, the power of boners is strong. That’s the problem in thinking with the wrong head. Despite knowing better, attractive women prompt me (and plenty other men) to go against my gut because I’m one of those dumb guys that thinks going out of one’s way for a woman makes a man “nice”.

Now odds are that I let the women in (because leaving them out in the cold in harsh), but immediately call them a taxi and do little in the way of starting a conversation. I hate having my day disturbed by random events. But it’s not like I can guarantee that outcome. If the two women looked like Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas (Genesis and Bel respectively), I’m just as likely to let them chill, pour them some water and maybe even share my dinner over Netflix.

I’m a talker. If two beautiful women want to sit down and chat, I offer my guests conversation. And whether that lasts until the taxi arrives or goes on until midnight, I’m going to chat as long as they want.

And if they begin flirting with me and getting physically suggestive, I cannot promise I won’t return the pleasantries. Now I’m probably less likely to let them dry their clothes (meaning they have to undress). And I sure as hell am not entering the bathroom while they shower just to get them to rush outside to catch an Uber. Two mistakes by Evan. But turning down consensual and casual sex admittedly isn’t easy.

But that’s also because I’m single. The only moral qualms I have are a) checking my intent at the door and making sure I’m not actually preying on these women, and b) deciding if they are trustworthy. The same cannot be said for Evan.

So consider the following caveat when determining if you would’ve taken a bite of Satan’s apple like Evan: you have a wife and two children. Now the context of the plot changes. Now the decision to invite these women into your home no longer looks well-intended. And rushing them to step out the shower by dropping off their clothes no longer appears as innocent.

knock knock keanu reeves
Keanu Reeves in ‘Knock Knock’

And that’s really at the crux of this film: we now have to question the intentions of what appeared to be a happily married man, while also determining if Evan is an empathetic figure or a creep for a husband and father. One might see a man who should be ashamed for himself for falling into the web of these two women. But I see a man that has been domesticated by family life and at war internally over urges and fantasies he long had to leave behind.

And maybe I’m wrong for calling him domesticated. But that’s not a statement against marriage (heck, I wouldn’t mind loving someone enough to be married one day). It’s a statement based on what the film clearly shows us about Evan.

There’s a life Evan lives for his wife and children, but also a former life he clearly misses and holds onto. Evan doesn’t have time to be Mr. DJ when he has a family at home that needs his presence. Evan doesn’t have time for sex when his wife needs a break. It’s a life Evan accepts, but not one that he necessarily envisioned or wants.

During the day he has a wife that isn’t interested in a quickie before she and the kids are set to leave. But at night, here are two beautiful women showing an interest in his love for music and discussing the appeal of older men and how monogamy goes against nature. Evan never stood a chance.

Had it not been so obvious that Genesis and Bel were up to no good (I mean, those two laid it on thick), deciding who the antagonist and protagonist are would be a bit confusing. On one hand, Evan is a victim of his impulses. But as Genesis and Bel are clearly shown to be the predators in this scenario, there is breathing room to understand Evan’s own struggles. He’s a guy on the edge finally given the avenue to take to the sky.

It’s a common struggle for men: having the willpower to act on what’s right as opposed to acting out on one’s urges. I was put to the test just last year and managed to fail miserably. Rather than take a moment to stop and think, I initiated sex with someone I shouldn’t have at a time when I wasn’t mentally or emotionally capable of handling a sexual encounter responsibly. But I was lacking something (well, sex) and saw a moment to fix that.

I was talking with a friend about the importance of willpower about a month ago. I told her that one of the more difficult things for me to accept is that the things I want in my life might not be the things that I need. That rather than act on impulse, I should stop to consider what’s right for everyone involved. We forget that our decisions don’t just involve us. They also yield the power to affect others.

I’ve heard this thinking is just a part of male leadership. The life Evan lives as a husband and father isn’t just about him. It’s also about his wife and children and making sure they are protected and taken care of. That maybe we’re being blocked from some of the things we desire for reasons beyond our limited scopes. The problem with giving into our impulses isn’t the impulse itself. It’s the fact that it’s selfish and comes from a place of self-gratification. It doesn’t consider anyone else involved.

Genesis and Bel clearly went out of their way to tempt Evan for their own twisted purposes and game. Evan’s decision might have fueled the two women, but they obviously had evil intentions in mind. Ultimately it’s hard to feel sympathy for either side. So instead of rooting for anyone, we just find ourselves laughing at what is just one dark joke. No one is “good” per say, but there is some capacity to understand the feelings of both sides.

So what is there to understand about Genesis and Bel? There is a scene where Bel rapes Evan while wearing the clothes of Evan’s daughter. (Note: And yes, if it is forced sex, furthermore under the threat of injury, it is rape.) What initially seems like Bel acting out a twisted character and disgusting daughter-father fantasy might really be her confessing to her past, namely being a victim of sexual assault as a minor.

Which is unbelievably sad. It’s not just two women targeting cheating men. It’s two women exposing men engaging in sex without a single thought for the partner and their ability to make responsible decisions in regards to consenting to sex. And yes, Genesis and Bel clearly look to be in their 20s. Got it. But the point is that Evan never gave any consideration or thought for the two or their ages. He wanted sex, it was clear he was going to get it, and that was enough for him.

It’s not just the worst episode of To Catch a Predator ever seen. It’s just an incredibly conflicting story. Is this a revenge story for women or a crazy take on the midlife-crisis? I don’t even know. In the end, I just wanted Evan to survive the torment and get back to his safe, domesticated family life. As boring as that reality may be, it certainly beats being strapped to a chair and having one’s eardrums blown out over a trivia show about pedophilia and statutory rape. Yea, that’s another thing that happened.

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