At some point during the last ten years, I’ve given up on M. Night Shyamalan. And I don’t mean this in a bad way, I simply lowered my expectations when it comes to his movies. And this, in turn, makes them quite watchable. Especially since I love this supernatural mystery genre so much. Alas, Knock at the Cabin is a rather forgettable, predictable, and barely watchable experience. In my opinion, it’s even worse than Shyamalan’s previous movie Old. We at least had some twists, cool special effects, and a bit of mystery there. Here, I didn’t care about any of the characters at all. And once you hear what’s going on here, you’ll simply know how this movie is going to end and how it’s going to get there.
The unexpected twists upon unexpected twists were the things that kept Shyamalan’s movies going in the past. This one, however, is based on a 2018 novel written by Paul Tremblay, so there were some limitations. The title of the novel is The Cabin at the End of the World, which would be a much better title for this movie. And this brings us to another aspect of it. Knock at the Cabin feels awfully similar to the 2011 cult classic horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods. The two movies share the same setting, the main plot, and the main idea behind the climactic finale. Needless to say that I would make the choice the characters in The Cabin in the Woods made.
And this is supposedly the biggest advantage of the Knock at the Cabin, to prompt you to think about what choice would you have made in that situation. The only thing is that I think all of us would figure that out in mere seconds, leaving the rest of the movie not as thought-provoking as they thought it would be. However, you can use their ideas to think about religion and its concepts. Why religion you might ask, well the themes in this movie are quite religious and they feel like they’ve been taken straight from the Bible. I think that’s a more thought-provoking line of inquiry than the “impossible choice”.
Eric and Andrew are a same-sex couple enjoying themselves in a remote cabin in the woods with their daughter Wen. Soon afterward, an unknown man approaches Wen and tells her that he and his three friends have to talk to not only her but also her dads. She rushes inside to tell Eric and Andrew but the four intruders are already banging on their door and looking for ways inside. They claim they’re there to present them with an important choice. A choice that might decide the future of the entire human race.
After all this negativity I have to also point out that the Knock at the Cabin wastes no time. The tension starts from minute one and it just keeps going. And this is also a single-location thriller, and you know how much I love those. The weapons looked kind of cool but we learned almost nothing about them. And the same goes for most of the characters. This leads us to the aforementioned lack of interest in them. Especially when they start talking about religion, kindness, sacrifice, the end of the world, and other shit. The camera work and the cinematography were solid, with a sort of old-timey, vivid vibe to them.
It is, however, the performances of the very diverse cast that convinced me to recommend you this movie. Dave Bautista is slowly but surely becoming one hell of an actor and it was so cool to see Jonathan Groff from Mindhunter give another good performance. Young Kristen Cui was excellent as Wen and we also have Rupert Grint who stars in another Shyamalan production, Servant. So, the lesson is, to lower your expectations and Knock at the Cabin will be worth watching. If you’re looking for something more potent, there’s always The Man From Earth.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: Paul Tremblay, M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond
Cast: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird
Fun Facts: In some cinemas, guests were asked to give up something they own, like a cell phone, in exchange for a gift after the end of the movie.