Review by Camden Ferrell
King Knight is the fifth feature film from independent writer and director Richard Bates Jr. It had its premiere in the latter half of 2021 where it played at the Fantasia International Film Festival. This movie marks the second collaboration between Bates and Matthew Gray Gubler after 2014’s Suburban Gothic. This is a movie that ultimately fails to achieve its desired effect because it is distractingly quirky for the sake of being quirky.
Thorn is the high priest of a small coven of new age witches. Along with his partner and high priestess, Willow, he aims to lead his coven to the best of his abilities. However, after a secret from his past comes to light, the lives of those in the coven is thrown into a spiral as they all must go on a personal journey of self-discovery. This premise is outlandish and intentionally so, and it sets a rather eccentric stage to tell its story on. A story such as this one can be told as long as its quirkiness is a reasonable attribute of the film and not its defining characteristic.
Unfortunately, its script doesn’t do much in the name of subtlety. It is very in your face from the start, and again, while this is definitely intentional, it doesn’t make the movie any funnier. It features some over the top dialogue and narration that subvert the earnestness of its message. It wants to be taken seriously as a comedy, but it doesn’t really have much enjoyable humor, and it only succeeds in dampening the overall finished product of the film.
One of the few highlights of the movie is its performances. The movie is led by Matthew Gray Gubler who is a reliably charming actor in his own right. Despite the less than stellar material he was given for this movie, he still managed to bring his typical charisma to the role. His supporting cast wasn’t able to make the most of what they were given, so they all sadly pale in comparison to Gubler.
The movie was supposed to emphasize the importance of self-discovery, but it’s such a cliché message, that it needs to be supplemented by something fresh and unique. While the movie attempts to do that through their quirky coven premise, it just unfortunately doesn’t work. The movie comes and goes, and it doesn’t really have a consistent flow or tone, and it seems like it’s trying to juggle too much at once. It has its quirks, but they don’t serve any purpose, and it boils down to just another basic story of self-discovery.
King Knight might appeal to fans of Gubler or of quirky comedies, but some viewers might find this film to be needlessly eccentric. Props to Bates for doing something different and attempting to imbue his own taste and style into the movie, but it just doesn’t work for me on any level. This is a film that is mostly worth watching for Gubler and not much else.
King Knight is in select theaters and on VOD February 17.