Knocking movie interview with Cecilia Milocco and director Frida Kempff
Frida Kempff’s psychological thriller at Sundance Knock releases digitally and on demand tomorrow, October 19. 1428 Elm got the chance to interview Frida and film star Cecilia Milocco about the film and the thought process behind it.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Swedish film is skillfully built on real human fears and anxieties, especially those affecting women. It focuses on the character of Molly (Milocco), who moves into a new apartment after a traumatic incident to begin her path to recovery. But Molly’s path is interrupted when she begins to hear persistent banging every night, and no one believes her when she tries to reach the source of the sound.
Knock premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was critically acclaimed and is the debut feature narrative from Swedish director Kempff.
Interview with star Cecilia Milocco and director Frida Kempff
1428 ELM: How did you get involved in this project?
FRIDA KEMPFF: In fact, by chance, I came across this short novel, which Knock is based on, and social issues have always interested me. I started in documentary and tried a few short stories but when I read this story I felt I could combine a story that counts in a genre movie even though I didn’t know I was was doing a genre film at the time.
But there was something I liked about it. I also felt it was a story and a topic – not being trustworthy as a woman – you could really put yourself in Molly’s shoes. As an audience you can doubt with it and try to figure out where the sound is coming from, so that was interesting.
CÉCILIA MINOCCO: I had already worked with Frida. She made a short film, and also in this film, she relied on the experience, the inner life, of a woman. It was when we first met, and I met Molly too. She’s very interested in the female experience so that was the first thing before I got the script, I thought it was really great.
1428 ELM: Cecilia, did you find it difficult to act on your own for much of this movie, or was it something fun for you?
CECILE: It was fun. [Laughs] I think to do that you have to have an eye, and Frida was that eye, and also Hannes [Krantz] the director of photography. We had great confidence in each other. It was a fun experience, and heavy, I remember as fun.
FRIDA: Sometimes I think it was difficult for you. It must have been hard.
CECILE: It was hard because we were sleeping and then we would wake up and talk about Molly then we would go to the bedroom then we would sleep and we would go upstairs, so like yes it was hard work, but it’s also fun when we can go 100% in a world like we did. It doesn’t happen very often.
1428 ELM: There are so many fantastic styling choices in this movie as well. I enjoyed how, especially in the scenes where Molly is trying to make people believe, the camera is focused on her, and as an audience you see what those people would see. There’s also this scene where she goes up the stairs before opening the door, and all these men surround her. I feel like as a woman we’ve all been in a situation where we feel intimidated by a man or unsure of what he’s going to do next, and that has created a real sense of tension. Can you tell us a bit about your shooting choices?
FRIDA: I spoke early on with the cinematographer, Hannes, that I wanted it to reflect Molly’s experience, and this camera had to be like that all the time. So he had to learn to be a woman, [Laughs] in a way, which I think he did well. Every department I’ve worked with had to follow Molly’s emotional journey. It was tight, but in a way it was easy for them.
And the whole use of colors, like at the start of the movie, she was green because that represented health and stability, and at the end, she was very red. In fact, even his shirt turns redder in a scene because of his temper. We talked a lot about colors instead of words which was better I think.
1428 ELM: Since this movie is about having strange neighbors, so to speak, have any of you ever had such an experience in real life?
CECILE: In fact, in Gothenburg, where I currently live, there was an incident because there was a man in the city, there were two explosions in a building. There was a fire and a lot of injuries, very traumatic and it was someone who had lived there, a neighbor who no longer lived there and now they are looking for him. I thought about it because everyone was saying, “He was so nice.
I’ve never had this experience, but it’s interesting. I live in an apartment and hear sounds all the time. Sometimes you can actually think, why am I not more curious about where these sounds are coming from? I hear this sound coming every night. What is that? You live so close to each other, but you learn not to care. [Knocking] It could happen. This is not strange news. It can happen.
1428 ELM: I feel like after people watch Knock, they will guess the noises they hear.
FRIDA: [Laughs] Normal knock or weird knock? I don’t have that experience, but I had a nervous breakdown in a very small apartment, so I know the feeling that Molly had. I am very sensitive to sound, so I heard a lot during this time.
But what inspired me with this film is also, you know that Cecilia, and it’s probably the same in the USA, but we had a lot of violence against women, especially a case where the neighbors heard every night a woman was beaten, but no one did anything. This movie is also about the courage to raise your voice and do something when you hear something.
1428 ELM: One thing I liked is that the entire third act is ambiguous in many ways. In a way, it makes the audience complicit because at the end of the film you wonder if you believe her or if you have become like the people who doubted her, or am I going to be on her side. ? What do you think of the end of the film?
FRIDA: I like it to be very open. I see it as an open ending but, in a way, giving it credit, without spoiling too much. But we have to start listening to each other and having empathy and humanity for each other. We need it more than ever.
CECILE: Without spoiling the ending, I think the movie has a lot of layers in a way, so whatever you see at the end is also a grieving story. The end is like when you walk through a traffic light and then come out the other side, in a certain way, or find closure.
1428 ELM: I also loved that Molly had this weird romance. Was it something planned in the script or something you decided on during the filming?
FRIDA: In the script, she was her only friend, and for me, I read her as she was her lover. I thought it was interesting not to comment or make a big deal out of it, just to have it there.
CECILE: It was just his relationship, like any relationship. I liked that too. I thought it was beautiful.
Knock, directed by Frida Kempff and starring Cecilia Milocco, is now in theaters and will be released digitally and on demand tomorrow, October 19.