It Knows follows Claire as she works through her childhood trauma and inner demons. After growing up with a physically and sexually abusive father, Claire tries to move on and have a normal life. Things become more complicated when the ghost of her father comes back to haunt her. No matter where she goes, she can’t get away from her demons.
This one lets you know right off the jump that it’s going to be dark. I mean, shit, the DVD has the words “childhood trauma” right there on the cover. So, I went into it prepared to see something a little disturbing. I wasn’t disappointed.
The movie opens with Claire’s abusive pedophile piece of shit father getting out of jail. We learn later on that he was in jail because he had been beating and raping Claire on a pretty regular basis.
Pedodad jumps in his truck and heads over to the house where his daughter and wife are hiding. Because he is an absolute piece of shit, he kills several people before cornering Claire in the bedroom. At this point he tells his young daughter that she will never escape him because he would always be there. He then does the world a solid and shoots himself in the head.
Flash forward several years and Claire is all grown up with a family of her own. She pulls her car into the forest and unloads some camping gear. Through some brief flashbacks we see that Claire and her husband have been arguing about something. Claire sets up camp and gets ready for a restful night in the wilderness. She gets pretty much the opposite of that. She falls into a nightmare where she must relive her childhood trauma.
Claire is forced to go through increasingly more painful moments from her life with her younger self as a guide. Young Claire guides her older counterpart through each memory, telling herself that she is there to help.
Through this journey, the audience is shown the fullness of the hell that was Claire’s childhood. Okay, maybe not the fullness of it; there’s no molestation in the film (thankfully) but it’s super clear that it was happening. We also see the emotional abuse that Claire received at the hands of her mother. I’m going to talk a little more about her later.
At the end of the journey, we see what lengths Claire will go to in order to protect her husband and children from the evil that haunts her.
Holy shit. The parents in this film definitely deserve their own section of the review. The father, as I mentioned, was an abusive, murderous pedophile. A few minutes with Claire’s mother made me wonder who the real monster in the story was, though.
Not only does Claire’s father rape, beat, manipulate, and intimidate her constantly, he also killed several people in front of her. At one point he bludgeons a woman to death right beside Claire and tells her that if she says anything about it he will kill her the same way he killed the woman.
He tells her that it’s just like “the other stuff” and “we don’t talk about it”. To add to how horrible this dude is, he constantly drools. Seriously, he’s like a mad dog. Every time he gears up to do some violence he just drools like a Saint Bernard.
Claire’s mom, on the other hand, blames Claire for her father’s crimes. She calls Claire a whore and accuses her of fucking her father. As opposed to, ya know, being a rape victim and child. She has the audacity to say that Claire was asking for it “walking around in those pajamas, shaking your little whore ass,” it was at that point that I wondered who the real monster was.
I think I figured it out, though. They’re both fucking horrible. These are the absolute bottom of the human shit pile.
To be Fair…
The amount of hate that I feel for these characters is a testament to how well they are written. They’re disgusting and evil but they aren’t just abusive parent tropes. The rest of the film is just as well put together. The narrative itself is told in three parts. First there is the present time with Claire in the woods, then there are the nightmare flashbacks to her childhood, finally there are more current flashbacks dealing with Claire and her family. This keeps the story coherent enough while still showcasing the fractured state of Claire’s mind.
This film looks great. The cinematography is on point. The practical effects are few and far between but when they are on screen they look good. This film doesn’t rely on blood and gore as much as it does on the psychological horror. When blood is shed or faces are removed, though, it is done with some skill.
All in all, would I recommend It Knows? I probably would, yeah. It’s a subtle and disturbing film. The performances are solid across the board, and the story and characters are well-crafted. However, if you’re someone who has lived through some heavy childhood trauma you may want to skip this. Like I said, the narrative and performances are really solid. This means that the abusive parents and victimized child are all pretty believable. Other than that, if you want something a little darker, definitely give this film a shot!