Cecilia Milocco and Frida Kempff make Hitchcock proud with Knocking, a throwback thriller that sure to delight mystery fans everywhere.

There is nothing as haunting as grief. No ghost or demon can compare to how loss takes residence in someone’s head. Knocking takes this idea to Edgar Allen Poe-like levels of anxiety and suspense, all while delivering a captivating performance from lead actress Cecilia Milocco.

In the film, a woman (Milocco) leaves a psychiatric ward following a mental breakdown brought on by a traumatic event. She believes her mind is in a healthy place for the first time in what seems like forever, but a mysterious knocking sound coming from the walls of her new apartment makes her think twice. Try as she might, she cannot find the source of the sound, and nobody other than her can hear it.

Click here to find more coverage of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Knocking is the debut narrative feature from Director Frida Kempff. Working closely with seasoned cinematographer Hannes Krantz, Kempff utilizes light and sound design to create a cold, increasingly uncomfortable world. The only moments bathed in sunlight are those pulled from Molly’s life before everything changed. Everything else is dim, as if whatever happened to her stole the light from her life.

The simplicity of the story leaves a lot of room for emotional exploration. The sounds in her walls are triggering for Molly, and as they carry on, she begins to question her reality. She sees things that are not there and fixates on innocuous moments. Cecilia Milocco possesses an incredible ability to take these little beats and wring out every bit of suspicion and unease possible. Your mind reels over what is happening to Molly and what is unfolding in her mind. Is she going crazy, or is there something more nefarious at hand?

There are more questions than answers, but one can argue that the same is true about life. When grief strikes, survivors often face conflicting emotions and thoughts that they alone must process—the how and why of existence presses down onto those caught in the struggle. So much so that many feel as though they are going insane. They never expected life to turn out the way it does, and when faced with the need to recognize their new reality, many lose themselves in one way or another.

Fans of cinema will undoubtedly catch many references to Poe’s works (Telltale Heart) and Hitchcock (Rear Window), but Knocking works hard to be unique. The film finds twists and turns that, thanks mainly to Milocco’s performance, sustain suspense elements while slowly drawing back the central mystery’s curtains. The finale is more heart wrenching than it is scary, and some may find the resolution lacking the punch it deserves, but the journey is more than worth your time.