FILM REVIEW: Knock at the Cabin
Acclaimed and derided director M. Night Shyamalan brings us his latest thriller Knock at the Cabin, which is about two dads Eric and Andrew and their daughter Wen who go on holiday to a cabin in the woods. But when a group of weapon-wielding sycophants invade the cabin, they ask the family to make a horrible choice: sacrifice one of their own, or let the apocalypse unfold.
Shrouded in mystery (from its initial trailer at least), Knock at the Cabin gets off to a terrific start as Shyamalan does a good job of establishing and maintaining the primary tension of the film: are these people just a bunch of raving lunatics, or is the end really nigh?
The individuals of the group, polite as possible given the circumstances but also forthright in the completion of their mission, despite their consequential guilt, steal the entire show. Dave Bautista continues to impress, having played a Marvel hero, a Bond henchman, an influencer, and now a convincing villainous lead in a home invasion thriller. Scary not just for his size but for his conflicted manner, Bautista is proving himself to be a legitimate actor of varied range. Nikki Amuka-Bird and Abby Quinn add lots of demented fun to the group, but Rupert Grint is having the most fun as Redmond, an unhinged thug with a so-so American accent.
Once the dads, played adequately by Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge, are tied up, Knock at the Cabin has a bit of downtime in which there is not much for the characters to do except to sit and wait for something to happen. Thankfully, the general intrigue of the film keeps the audience on board for this comparatively tedious section.
Then, in typical Shyamalan fashion, the twist happens. And without spoiling anything, the twist is what is is. Some will be let down by it, some will find it thought-provoking, some may not even think of it as a twist. This reveals some big ideas that the film had been keeping secret, which could have been threaded into the story better rather than feeling like an optional extra. Ultimately, though, the use of these ideas within the film does not hold up to much scrutiny and they actually take away from the more engaging elements from earlier in the film.
A winning premise for sure, Knock at the Cabin unfortunately does not follow through on its big ideas. As well-paced and tense as the beginning was, making this one of Shyamalan’s most enjoyable films for a while at least, the end leaves a questionable taste in the mouth.