dir. Richard Bates Jr.
The latest from writer/director Richard Bates Jr. is a balm for an imperfect world, where love is messy, family are unkind, and we still secretly compete with the classmates of our youth, despite the decades that have passed since we last saw them beyond the glittery veil of social media.
King Knight follows Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler), the High Priest of a pagan coven, as he grapples with his All-American past on the eve of his 20-year high school reunion. Playing opposite as his partner Willow is Angela Sarafyan – on intoxicating form – and Andy Milonakis and Nelson Franklin as two of the most memorable coven devotees, whilst there’s a brilliant cameo by horror maven Barbara Crampton and, during a long ayahuasca trip, Aubrey Plaza pops up as a (ahem) talking pinecone.
Despite the fact that it’s been marketed as a horror comedy, there are no real elements of horror here. Instead there’s a What We Do In the Shadows-esque humour to the dysfunctional Wiccan coven that is exceedingly effective, toeing the line between laugh-out-loud funny and subtly endearing: but audiences expecting a blood bath will be disappointed.
However go in knowing it’s not a splatterfest and there’s much to enjoy. There hasn’t been a feature-length comedy like this in so long that it feels fresh, with surrealist neon-lit visuals, a liberal use of slow motion and an emphasis on synth-heavy music, this is as stylish as it is hilarious, often playing like a music video (complete with dance montages). It’s silly, that’s true, but it’s also strangely relatable to anyone dreading their high school reunion, fretting over revealing who they’ve become and what they have (or haven’t) accomplished in the years since graduation.
If nothing else, audiences will walk away having learned one of life’s most universal lessons: we all have poop in our butts.