Knock at the Cabin Review

Knock at the Cabin
Knock at the Cabin
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This movie feels like a departure from the standard twist-laden, suspenseful thrillers we are used to seeing from M. Night Shyamalan. Maybe this is due to the fact that Shyamalan had two other writers help him write it—Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman—who adapted Paul Tremblay’s book, The Cabin at the End of the World. An apocalypse film minus the apocalypse feeling; overall one-note and sometimes muffled doomsday scenario. Occasionally, it works well as a chamber-locked standoff between a cult-like group and a frightened family but fails to reach deep into one’s feelings unlike what is evidenced in Tremblay’s narrative. we are talking about Knock at the Cabin.

Collectively all of them play their individual parts very well: Eric (Jonathan Groff) & Andrew (Ben Aldridge), same-sex parents, their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) who is such a darling and Leonard (Dave Bautista), faithful captors. This whole climax takes place at a rental cabin where Eric and Andrew have taken Wen for some holiday cheer; unfortunately, Leonard intrudes with his crew who inform them that they can either choose one person from their family to die or let everybody burn together when our world inevitably catches fire.

Bautista emerges as an outstanding force behind this hulking talker busting out of his everyday button-down shirt with destructive violence juxtaposed with soft rationalizations during conversations delivered in charismatic tones by any cult leader worth his salt. Eric and Andrew have no belief in divine visions while Shyamalan keeps up the suspense over Leonard insisting that if no sacrifice is chosen then our world will burn—only Bautista’s performance remains blameless even if both these aspects mentioned above fail to produce satisfactory results.

It seems so strange that Knock at The Cabin has such an even keel when it actually traumatizes mercilessly, hates unconditionally, inflicts Biblical plagues, and causes other life-altering experiences. Groff and Aldridge negotiate for their lives to be better off not knowing if they would be happy together again – but there is no spark in their romantic chemistry beyond a matchstick’s flame. Leonard’s accomplice invaders such as Nikki Amuka-Bird who acts as Sabrina, an apologetic nurse, and Rupert Grint cast as Redmond, an ex-convict from Boston never really let us see how or why they became the people they are while modernizing the couple into mercy. Whenever Knock at The Cabin tries to put complicated emotional states on-screen and heighten them, it tends to appear flat and empty. However, he has always been brave enough to take risks with his storytelling techniques throughout his entire career; nevertheless this time round he just goes through predetermined moves which should appear more monumental.

Plain white bread, Knock at the Cabin is, in effect, of the home invasion thriller genre that is structurally sound but flavorless. Not one iota of fear comes out from any scene where four armed strangers are confronted, even as overt religious overtones make it clear this serves as an image for Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse since that’s not what Leonard intends (or so he says). Eric and Andrew’s flashbacks do not seem as genuinely heartbreaking alternating with a couple imprisoned so tightly due to rushing through these otherwise crucial character moments. However, there exists an intriguing concept – forsake personal happiness to safeguard an evil-infested world – yet its chosen ending isn’t convincing or compellingly told by Knock at the Cabin.

There are other skills beyond breaking free from typecasts that Bautista possesses. Child performances can be hit-or-miss but Cui is sweet when added in scenes because she brings out Bautista’s warmth or emboldens Groff and Aldridge as partners. Photographers Jarin Blaschke and Lowell A. Meyer effectively use their cameras to accentuate the cabin’s isolation while emphasizing stillness on long shots filled with anticipation of conflict. Shyamalan has a history of such mind games and traps; hence, all scenes involving him move well given that they start running soon after Bautista’s harbinger pops up in the forest only for nothing to happen afterward (Shelton et al., 2022). Nonetheless, this cabin is solidly built but empty inside.


Knock at the Cabin does not knock cabin-in-woods horror tropes out of the park. M. Night Shyamalan adheres to some maladaptive conventions and ends up making a tonal flat liner regardless of the number of emotionally targeted beatdowns or prophecy-spouting lambs led to slaughter for blind faith’s sake (Swanson et al., 2021). Not much is really surprising about it, nor is it exceptionally inspiring in light of the unimaginably horrific situation and an odd choice for Dave Bautista. It’s a movie that feels like it’s holding back everywhere – no sensation, rounded-up ending, dispassion in ideas, or visual brutality exhibited by the camera – until a final scene walks off into the sunset with hardly a goodbye. Knock at the Cabin takes on Old Testament tropes up to this point but loses them when it ties up its story as increasingly predictable hence showing just how little Shyamalan had to say (Adepo et al., 2021).

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