FANTASIA 2021 Film Festival Review: King Knight (2021)

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King Knight Plot

King Knight follows Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler), the head of a small coven of witches that includes his life partner Willow (Angela Sarayafan) and 3 other couples of various degrees of left-wing. They live a fairly quiet existence in the forest, casting spells and having dance circles and the like when one day Willow learns a horrific secret about Thorn’s past.

See, not only was Thorn once a total jock who was into Lacrosse but he was voted Prom King at his prom and is now expected to go back to do a speech at the reunion. Naturally, this means that Thorn has to be shunned from the coven, leading to him taking a deep spiritual journey to discover what matters most to him… a spiritual journey that might involve a park ranger, a talking pine cone, the wizard Merlin and a flaming bag of poop. Spiritual journeys are different for everyone, OK?

King Knight Review

Considering it barely runs for over an hour and 15 minutes, King Knight makes the most out of every minute. There isn’t a single minute of filler, it never feels like there’s anything important missing, it’s got a very simple and silly story to tell and it makes sure to get through it as effectively as possible… and yes, I did say there wasn’t a single minute of filler in a movie with a talking pine cone, trust me that’s one of the most important and best scenes in the movie which is saying a lot for a film that keeps constantly landing it’s ridiculous deadpan jokes.

King Knight’s tone is almost completely deadpan, to the point where some of the jokes are just glossed over so quickly that it’ll take you a full minute to realise what just happened. They never linger on a joke or try to really hammer it in, you’re either catching what’s being thrown or they’re moving on to the next bit. There’s enough genuinely great weird stuff going on in this that it’s inevitable that something’s going to land for most people watching.

FANTASIA 2021 Film Festival Review: King Knight (2021)
FANTASIA 2021 Film Festival Review: King Knight (2021)

While it’s very light-hearted, King Knight also has a few barbs to throw out. The writer/director of this film previously dabbled in political comedy with his horror/comedy Tone Deaf and it feels like there are still some jabs he wanted to make at both sides of the political spectrum, and this time they land a lot better. A larger amount is thrown out to our little witch coven, a group who proudly identify as leftists (though they worry if they’re too leftist or not leftist enough) and speaking as someone who would be on their side, the barbs are pointed and funny while also being wonderfully accurate at times.

The bulk of King Knight rests on the shoulders of Matthew Gray Gubler’s performance as Thorn, since we spend almost all of the film’s runtime with him on his spiritual journey and it’s a genuinely great performance. It anchors the weirdness going on around him, meaning that other performers are able to indulge in some bigger moments (Willow’s emotional outburst when she learns about his past is a brilliant example of someone else just going for broke while Matthew holds the film in place) and the film never loses itself because of those moments.

There’s a sweet easy-going charm that runs through King Knight, it might have some pointed jokes but it never feels mean. If anything, the film is about just being yourself and appreciating those with who you’ve chosen to be a family. Mixed in there among the silliness and the flaming dog poop is an undeniably sweet core that makes everything worthwhile.

Overall

King Knight is a funny little film that’s equal amounts odd and sweet. With an incredible cast and some fun imagery, it’s the kind of film that’s pretty easily accessible to anyone. It’s odd enough that you can certainly call it strange, but not so weird that it’s off-putting. It hits that sweet spot just right and will be a good time for pretty much anyone.


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