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Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton square off mightily in the otherwise routine thriller 'Don't Knock Twice'

Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton square off mightily in the otherwise routine thriller 'Don't Knock Twice'
Katee Sackhoff, left, and Lucy Boynton in the film "Don't Knock Twice." (IFC Midnight)

Though there's a lot to like about the stylish supernatural thriller "Don't Knock Twice," the picture remains a warmed-over hash of "Candyman," "Oculus," "Insidious" and a half-dozen other spook-shows.

The best reason to see "Don't Knock Twice" is the volatile chemistry between genre favorites Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton, playing mother-daughter duo Jess and Chloe, reunited after a long stretch where mom was too strung out to take care of her kid. The now-grown Chloe is still bitter about her childhood, but shows up at the cleaned-up Jess' English estate to try and escape a ghost who's been haunting her.

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Director Caradog W. James (following up his very good 2013 sci-fi pic "The Machine") delivers some solid jump-scares in "Don't Knock Twice," and maintains an effectively unsettling atmosphere throughout. But the screenplay sounds a lot of familiar notes about how human frailty allows ancient evil to reenter the modern world. The script doesn't tell a story so much as provide a framework for the jolts — right down to the standard-issue twist ending.

Still, give Sackhoff and Boynton credit for seizing on the very real anger and regret their characters feel, and playing off each other in scenes charged with raw emotion. They bring so much life to the material that it's almost like they've been tricked into thinking they're in a better movie.

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'Don't Knock Twice'

Rating: R, for horror violence and language.

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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