• Golden Globe Awards

Knocking (Sweden)

The psychological thriller Knocking is Swedish director Frida Kempff’s first feature film. The script is written by Emma Broström and is based on a novel by Johan Theorin. The director, who has made documentaries prior to her debut as a feature film director, felt that this story about a woman whom no one believes when she speaks up about a crime, was perfect for her as her first exploration of fiction.
“As a woman, I could really relate to that, and to the terrifying thought – what happens to you if no one believes you?” says Frida Kempff about the major premise of the film. “It was a genre story that said something important about our society.”
The story is fairly simple. Molly Aronsson (Cecilia Milocco) lives in a psychiatric ward after suffering from a psychological breakdown, which seems to have been caused by a traumatic incident. Her beloved Judith (Charlotta Åkerblom) passed away while they were on a trip to the beach, and the warm images of them on the beach still keep popping up in her mind. After deciding she is healthy enough to be released from the hospital, she moves into a big modern apartment building in a suburban area of Sweden.
Not long after Molly moves into the apartment, loud knocking sounds start to disturb her peace and a woman’s screams start to wake her up at night. As Molly notices signs that a woman is in trouble – she sees the word “Help” written on the elevator wall, and a bloodstain appears on her ceiling – the screams intensify, and more signs begin to indicate that something is very wrong.
Molly begins to obsess about this. However, when she confronts the men in the building, they all dismiss her concerns. Kaj (Ville Virtanen), Peter (Krister Kern) and Per (Albin Grenholm) do not hear the knocking – or so they claim. Maybe they’re lying. Or maybe Molly is delusional?
“I saw the building that Molly lives in as a metaphor for the society we live in,” says Frida Kempff about Knocking. “For how women’s truths today and throughout history have been rejected; there are so many testimonies that haven’t been listened to. I saw a #Metoo theme here that was important to follow.”
The film is seen from Molly’s perspective only. Haunted by her past, Molly does not act like a sane person, and the audience is not certain whether she is actually witnessing a crime or simply suffering from the traumatic loss of her partner. So, when she continually calls the police asking them to take action, the audience is not sure whether to feel sympathy for her.
“It was important for me really to put the audience in Molly’s shoes. I wanted them to feel what she felt. My intention was that a male audience could experience how it would be to be a woman who doesn’t get her voice heard.
“It was also important that the antihero/protagonist had flaws, and in the audience’s eyes wasn’t quite reliable because of her mental health. It was interesting to challenge the audience to question what is real and what is not. We all judge and label people who in any way stand out from the norm; but who owns the truth? Who are we to judge? Molly becomes more mentally ill because of how the society treats her.”
The actress who plays Molly, Cecilia Milocco, is in almost every frame of the film, and her performance is essential to the end result. Frida Kempff had worked with her on the short film Dear Kid in 2016, and knew she was the one for the job.
“She becomes Molly in every scene. There is nothing false. I knew that she was great, but what she did in Knocking is brilliant.”