August 20th, 2021
MOVIE: KING KNIGHT
STARRING: MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER, ANGELA SARAFYAN, BARBARA CRAMPTON
DIRECTED BY: RICHARD BATES JR.
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
There’s honestly not enough comedy on display within the horror genre. And I am talking pure, originally written humor, and not something funny because the blood splatter is absolutely ridiculous. It’s possible that King Knight is such an enjoyable movie because it is entirely unexpected, but it’s also introspective, light hearted, and filled up with a cast that is game to throw themselves out there. Richard Bates Jr. changes gears, writing and directing once again, but instead of just making a serious movie about a group of satanic cult members, he finds a way to make a movie about grown adults learning to see the good inside everybodies differences. King Knight is a humorous look at the leader of a group of outsiders, learning to accept his past, and being his true self. No matter how that may sound, King Knight is a unique mix of dark and light comedy.
If you’re not aware of the kind of director that Richard Bates Jr. is, his debut feature Excision was an introduction to AnnaLynne McCord as an angsty teenager, interested in learning how to dissect human bodies, which made horror audiences take notice. Since that debut, his filmography has shifted between the meta, the terrifying, and surprisingly light-hearted. The leader of the group is Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler), a tall, dark, and charismatic leader, with his supportive wife Willow (Angela Sarafyn) at his side. They are a tried and true coven, performing sacrifices, using tarot cards to look into their futures, and building their coven as a family of friendly satanic worshipers. When members of the coven find out that Thorn’s past was not lived as the person he said he was, but instead a stereotypical popular jock, captain of the football team, and king of the prom, the entire group excommunicates him from the circle.
It’s the second and third acts of King Knight that pleasantly surprised me, where the comedy becomes more natural, and the laughs are smarter than expected. It’s because with Bates’ history of films and this collective cast of actors, I was not expecting King Knight to be what it was at all. That’s a good thing. The focus on Gubler’s character is introspective, about what it means to change as a person, where Thorn walks through the desert, going through a hallucinogenic mind trip, where he speaks to a pine cone and hears the voice of his mother (played perfectly by Barbara Crampton) tormenting him, but his journey takes him back to his high school reunion. It’s when Thorn arrives at the reunion where he opens up as his true self, letting his spirit fly, doing an interpretive dance, and showing his old classmates that he’s not who he used to be. It becomes a mingling of adults learning to accept each other from different corners of life.
The comedy in King Knight is not always laugh out loud funny, but it’s almost just too goofy to not admire. The supporting cast of actors and the cult followers including Andy Milonokis, Kate Comer, and Nelson Franklin deliver lines that sound like a mixture of ad-lib and perfectly timed quips. The group begins to see the error of their judgmental ways and make their way to the reunion, which of course makes the scenario both awkward and full of unpredictable laughs.
At best King Knight is a fascinating expression of a dark comedy, where the carefree approach from Richard Bates Jr. makes an impressive display on a new brand of humor. The other big highlight is another impressive performance from Matthew Gray Gubler who is playing a character with a true arch. The character like Thorn is an all too relatable person, as a man that lived his life in high school as one way and learned to be accepting as he grew up. That’s what makes King Knight a rare gem. All hail this new horror comedy, King Knight is worthy of high praise.
KING KNIGHT HAD ITS PREMIERE AT FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL
Written by: Leo Brady