Synopsis: While vacationing at a remote cabin, a young girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed strangers who demand that the family make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse. With limited access to the outside world, the family must decide what they believe before all is lost.
We should all have learned by now to not stay in secluded cabins in unfamiliar places. I don’t care how tough you think you are, how many people are with you, or how many weapons you may have, the unknown is terrifying and strangers are unpredictable. The way that the original It had an entire generation terrified of clowns or how the street cred of sharks was ruined by Jaws, you’d think that all the horror films with ‘cabin’ in the title would deter us from ever staying in one, nope. Nevertheless, when it comes to me and my family, you can keep your cabin in the woods, the black man can’t die first in that movie if we don’t go.
“Why are you here?”
I think it’s safe to say, I’m officially done answering the door. From now on, we can talk through my doorbell. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Knock at the Cabin is a tension-fueled and chilling but somewhat empty apocalyptic thriller. Based on the award-winning novel, The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, this suspenseful tale poses the impossible question of whether you and your family could come to a consensus on who to sacrifice in order to save the world. Not only is it a daunting scenario, but the question is placed upon you by force by way of four ominous and intimidating strangers wielding deadly makeshift weapons. To make matters worse, there is no cellphone signal and the mysterious group sounds completely unhinged. After being tied up and with no one to call even if they get free, married couple Andrew and Eric along with their adopted daughter, Wen have no choice but to entertain this terrifying reality and somehow stay alive in the process.
“A part of humanity has just been judged.”
The concept of this haunting story is rather straightforward, however, Shyamalan does stray from the source material in a few instances while seemingly trying to add some social commentary that is barely touched. And as it is customary to wait for the big reveal in an M. Night film, I don’t think you’ll find this one to be as satisfying as you’d like and perhaps too predictable. Knock at the Cabin is at its best when masterfully building suspense and creating edge-of-your-seat tension, they could’ve benefited from more time. The tight runtime and focus on back-and-forth arguing and disbelief resulted in characters that felt flat at times. Their backstories, even while portrayed, felt a bit rushed making them a tad forgettable and less empathic. The final product is still something you can sink your teeth into with perplexing moments of humanity, nevertheless, how much will you care in the end? This film doesn’t quite leave you with a satisfying ending, however, I don think that a second viewing would be beneficial. The score coupled with the cinematography is phenomenal and mood-setting. The performances are strong. And despite what may seem like negativity, Shyamalan is definitely in his bag. Knock at the Cabin is worth a watch and I’m curious to know what you all think as well. Its rewatchability is medium.
Pacing & Pop
The pacing of the film is perfect. Getting right to it, the story is immediately interesting as dives headfirst into suspense and drama. Once the strangers come knocking, the film doesn’t let up until the credits roll. What popped for me was the idea itself. Whether you like the film or not, you can’t escape the thought of being in this predicament. It’d be an impossible task to do and believe what the strangers are suggesting, but it would be just as difficult being one of the four delivering an apocalyptic message and the duties that follow.
Characters & Chemistry
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint
The performances are fantastic. Dave Bautista continues to impress with each new role and is a standout in this film. As Leonard, he is insanely ominous as well as calm and charismatic. Ben Aldridge delivers a fiery domineering performance that plays perfectly opposite Jonathan Groff as Eric, his husband, and against Bautista’s towering threats. Newcomer Kristen Cui showcases natural talent as Wen. I’m sure we’ll see more of her in the future. And Rupert Grint continues to shed that Ron Weasley skin as he steps into the extremely aggressive and menacing skin of Redmond.
Knock at the Cabin releases in theaters on February 3, 2023. Remain safe and enjoy.
Rated: R Runtime: 1h 40m Director: M. Night Shyamalan Writers: M. Night Shyamalan and Steve Desmond & Michael Sherman Based on: the book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Marc Bienstock, Ashwin Rajan Executive Producers: Steven Schneider, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Ashley Fox Composer: Herdís Stefánsdóttir Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke, Lowell A. Meyer
Knock at the Cabin is a tension-fueled and chilling but somewhat empty apocalyptic thriller.
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.