Amazing to think M.Night Shyamalan was once labelled by some film critics as the new ‘Steven Spielberg’ all thanks to his tight direction with his breakthrough chiller The Sixth Sense.
Then came Marky Mark and the funky bunch aka Mark Wahlberg apologising to rubber plants on behalf of humanity in the apocalyptic disaster The Happening. There is also incoherent mess Avatar: The Last Airbender, his first big budget film. A sloppy, unforgivable live action adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon animated series.
Signs, Unbreakable, The Visit, The Village and Split gave us hope that Shyamalan can still make a decent solid film.
His previous film the 2021 Horror Old, it was a divisive film that split cinephiles that many thought the film is sliding back down that slippery slope into mediocrity. A film I actually enjoyed with hotel guests trapped on a beach who aged with apparent reason.
Now he returns with what might look a home invasion thriller, Knock At The Cabin, that’s actually got existential consequences for everyone including the invaders.
Like many of the aforementioned films, have themes of faith, fate and destiny. This one continues much of those themes with a very claustrophobic tone.
Knock At The Cabin is based on the award winning Paul Tremblay novel Cabin At The End Of The World.
Same sex couple Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) all head for a holiday at their Cabin in the woods in rural Pennsylvania .
Things are looking an idyllic respite for all them, soon that peace is about to be interrupted thanks to four unexpected visitors. The strangers led by Leonard (Dave Bautista) who is joined by Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) , Adrienne (Abby Quinn) and Redmond (Rupert Grint). All equipped with home made weapons demanding entry into the cabin. The foursome break in and take our family hostage .
Leonard in a very apologetic mood explains why they are here. To convince Eric and Andrew to do the unthinkable. This move will save the world from an apocalyptic destruction.
Will they actually believe all is lost? With very limited access to the outside the world to even attempt to agree with strangers. All the strangers are plagued and compelled with visions of the impending doom. Eric and Andrew think they are all bonkers, and suffering mental health issues.
Eric offers to get them help whilst Andrew takes the more parental role protecting Wren. The whole situation brings aggression out of Eric who first thinks first they are homophobic attackers especially towards one of the four. Making him believe all four they may have crossed his path especially in his local bar which Eric was attacked.
Leonard has a calm collective personality he acts like a mediator between both parties. Constantly explaining what they need and what will happen if they don’t agree to the proposal .
Even showing evidence on the cabin television he still can’t convince them. Eric even saying what he is seeing is pre-recorded or fake. Even after Sacrifice the stakes get worse and the clock ticks down to the end of days, will they ever convince them?
Fans of Tremblay’s book maybe a little frustrated by some major changes to the narrative. I haven’t read the book, but from those who have read it those changes make Knock At The Cabin more filmable.
Shyamalan presents our four strangers as hard sells. Despite the emotion, the fears they find it hard to convince our hostages. Are they just deranged individuals who may have met online read some religious fanatics prophetic end of the world theory?
The characters show a lot of vulnerability which builds of the tensions as things get desperate.
Religion and faith play a big part of this film. It puts those fears to the test and how far would you go to protect your family or even your fellow human being.
Some fantastic performances especially from Dave Bautista. Who like Dwayne Johnson is a wrestler turned actor who wants to do more dramatic roles. He proves he has all the attributes and attitude to get more dramatic and has already proven he’s better than Johnson. Leonard is someone with sincerity, sympathy and is convincing as the school teacher lead.
Knock At The Cabin won’t be for everyone, Shyamalan will still have his naysayers regardless what he does. This could be seen as a cautionary tale, what is, is the director’s best film in a while.
Mystery, Thriller | USA, 2023 | 15 | Cinema | 3rd February 2023 | Universal Pictures | Dir. M.Night Shyamalan | Dave Bautista, Johnathan Groff, Ben Aldrige, Kristen Cui, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuki-Bird