Knock at the Cabin

March 2, 2023
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M. Night Shyamalan movies are hit or miss nowadays, so it’s a good thing this one isn’t half bad!

Set in a secluded cabin in the woods, Knock at the Cabin follows Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldrige), and their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), as they’re set upon by a group of mysterious people who are convinced an apocalypse is right around the corner. Led by the hulking Leonard (Dave Bautista), this potentially dangerous and possibly insane quartet soon forces themselves into Eric, Andrew, and Wen’s home, ties them up, and insists that one of them must die in order to avoid global catastrophe. As the day drags on, Eric and Andrew are at a loss for how to escape their situation until, that is, Leonard and his crew’s seemingly ridiculous claims start to come true. Is the apocalypse truly about to begin? Would a sacrifice actually stop it? Either way, someone’s not making it out of this one alive, and if Leonard and his fellow followers are to be believed, it might not just be the people sitting in the room that bite the dust but the entire world as well.

Based on the book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, Knock at the Cabin is a perfect vehicle for Shyamalan to show he still has what it takes to make a solid movie, despite him consistently working against that claim as of late. Having the benefit of working with two other writers on this film, Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman — a rarity for the filmmaker — while taking inspiration from Tremblay’s source material, these elements are quite possibly the exact reasons why this movie avoided many of the traps Shyamalan’s lesser films usually fall into.

Unlike his last train wreck of a film in 2021’s OldKnock at the Cabin is directed with an effective but reserved style that works well within the confined uncertainty of the plot, with the moodiness of the filmmaking and careful scripting helping to push Shyamalan’s strengths to the forefront, while hiding some of his more nagging tendencies as a director otherwise. Also helping Shyamalan along is Dave Bautista’s Leonard who absolutely enthralls as a man whose anxious energy and giant frame bring an unnerving and measured terror to every scene he’s in, effectively putting me a bit on edge every time. Throw in some equally as disconcerting performances from his colleagues and a solid set of protagonists to hope and fear for, and the few things that bring the movie down — like some head-scratching scenes that feel as if Shyamalan wanted to add some much-needed characterization to his players but stopped short and thought better of it for reasons unknown — aren’t major but are just enough to keep this one from being even better than it already is.

I liked this film more than I thought I would, and since Shyamalan’s latest downtick in filmmaking quality has marred his last few movies, I was even more impressed by what I saw here. Still, there are a few weird moments that don’t feel right when it comes to the story elements and progression of the plot as well as a few contrivances mixed in that I could have done without, but overall, Knock at the Cabin is a tentative return to form for a writer/director that needs to be more consistent moving forward.

M. Night Shyamalan movies are hit or miss nowadays, so it’s a good thing this one isn’t half bad! Set in a secluded cabin in the woods, Knock at the Cabin follows Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldrige), and their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), as they’re set upon by a group of mysterious people who are convinced an apocalypse is right around the corner. Led by the hulking Leonard (Dave Bautista), this potentially dangerous and possibly insane quartet soon forces themselves into Eric, Andrew, and Wen’s home, ties them up, and insists that one of them must die in order to avoid global catastrophe. As the day drags on, Eric and Andrew are at a loss for how to escape their situation until, that is, Leonard and his crew’s seemingly ridiculous claims start to come true. Is the apocalypse truly about to begin? Would a sacrifice actually stop it? Either way, someone’s not making it out of this one alive, and if Leonard and his fellow followers are to be believed, it might not just be the people sitting in the room that bite the dust but the entire world as well. Based on the book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, Knock at the Cabin is a perfect vehicle for Shyamalan to show he still has what it takes to make a solid movie, despite him consistently working against that claim as of late. Having the benefit of working with two other writers on this film, Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman — a rarity for the filmmaker — while taking inspiration from Tremblay’s source material, these elements are quite possibly the exact reasons why this movie avoided many of the traps Shyamalan’s lesser films usually fall into. Unlike his last train wreck of a film in 2021’s Old, Knock at the Cabin is directed with an effective but reserved style that works well within the confined uncertainty of the plot, with the moodiness of the filmmaking and careful scripting helping to push Shyamalan’s strengths to the forefront, while hiding some of his more nagging tendencies as a director otherwise. Also helping Shyamalan along is Dave Bautista’s Leonard who absolutely enthralls as a man whose anxious energy and giant frame bring an unnerving and measured terror to every scene he’s in, effectively putting me a bit on edge every time. Throw in some equally as disconcerting performances from his colleagues and a solid set of protagonists to hope and fear for, and the few things that bring the movie down — like some head-scratching scenes that feel as if Shyamalan wanted to add some much-needed characterization to his players but stopped short and thought better of it for reasons unknown — aren’t major but are just enough to keep this one from being even better than it already is. I liked this film more than I thought I would, and since Shyamalan’s latest downtick in filmmaking quality has marred his last few movies, I was even more impressed by what I saw…

7.3

Answer the Door

The Verdict

7.3

7

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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