Knock at the Cabin – Film Review

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Writers: M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, and Michael Sherman

Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kirsten Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint

Rating: ★★★½

M. Night Shyamalan follows up his 2021 film Old with the awkwardly titled Knock at the Cabin, based on The Cabin at the End of the World  by Paul G. Tremblay. It’s a horror/thriller home invasion film, that has some religious overtones to it. The film is about what kind of sacrifice people are willing to make for the greater good of humanity, and whether humanity deserves that sacrifice in the first place.

There’s no time wasted before things get going. The film opens with Wen (Kristen Cui) catching grasshoppers, to study them. As she’s doing that a stranger, Leonard (Dave Bautista) approaches and tries to befriend Wen. There’s instant tension as he tries to get to know her and speaks to her. There’s a lot of close-up shots of their faces as they’re speaking, and you know something bad is about to happen, but you just don’t know what.

Once Leonard’s colleagues appear, armed with their tools (that look a lot more like deadly weapons), you know all hell is about to break loose. Wen rushes back to the cabin that her fathers, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), have rented out for a vacation, and Leonard is close behind. He knocks on the door, asking to be let in because he needs help from the family. The following scenes is pure tension, as the four visitors try to break into the house, while the family inside desperately try to defend themselves. It’s intense and scary. The idea of being in a house in the middle of nowhere, with people trying to break in, no way out, and no phone lines, is scary. There’s also a great moment that builds even more tension where Andrew fights off one of the intruders, played by a surprisingly intimidating Rupert Grint, and beats him up. You’re then just waiting for the retaliation as the next few scenes play out.

Despite their best efforts, the family are captured and have to listen to the group’s story of the impending apocalypse and what they can do to stop it. They must make a decision whether to believe the intruders are telling the truth or are just delusional. That’s the central mystery of the film, whether their visions are true, or the intruders are simply unhinged religious extremists. The problem with this, is that it’s not ambiguous enough, and you can pretty much guess how everything will play out. While there’s some attempts at deflection, it’s not really convincing. The ending is nowhere near as vauge as it could have been, and that’s a real shame.

It’s still an enjoyable ride to get to the final act, even if it does tread a predictable path. Dave Bautista pretty much makes the entire film, with his convincing and likable performance. You want to believe him, and the longer he’s on screen the less you want him to die. One of the film’s biggest strengths is that throughout their occupation of the cabin, you do get to know the intruders and they’re all likable characters. They’re the bad guys, but you can understand their viewpoints to, even if you’re not convinced by their beliefs. The central family is also very convincing and the three members of it feel very authentic. You get to see some flashbacks to understand Eric and Andrew further as the story plays out. There is a lot of homophobia in these scenes, adding another element to the central story, as Andrew believes that the intruders have targeted them specifically. He believes that even if the intruders are telling the truth that humanity isn’t worth the sacrifice they’re asking for. The film has moments of horror, but it does stay away from showing the more gruesome moments. It’s always just out of view, or the camera cuts away, stopping this from being as horrific as it could have been.

Knock at the Cabin is definitely worth watching and is a good thriller. The first half is better than the second, but it never gets boring or feels dragged out. Shyamalan is a master at creating tension and this is no exception.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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4 Responses to Knock at the Cabin – Film Review

  1. Don Cullinane says:

    I completely agree with your review. I thought it was a good film until the end. It should have been vague, to make you draw your own conclusions, instead of tying it up in a bow. I did enjoy it, until the last 15 mins.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ben says:

    Bad grammar. “As their speaking”. As THEY’RE speaking.


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