Knock at the Cabin | Film Threat

NOW IN THEATERS! Let’s face it. M. Knight Shyamalan’s track record is spotty at best. He broke out early with Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and afterward, a series of hits and misses. Knock at the Cabin is his latest effort and it’s based on a 2018 novel by Paul Tremblay, The Cabin at the End of the World.

The basic story is all in the film’s trailer. A family is on vacation in the woods—Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristin Cui). The story opens with Wen in the nearby field catching grasshoppers, where she is approached by the gentile giant Leonard (Dave Bautista). Leonard does his best to assure Wen he is not a danger to her and her family…even though he is.

An alarmed Wen rushes back to the cabin and warns her fathers that there are strangers coming to the door. Leonard and his crew, Redmond (Rupert Grint), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), and Adrianne (Abby Quinn) bust down the door giving Eric a severe concussion in the process.

The family is now tied and bound to chairs, Leonard informs them that the apocalypse is coming and in order to stop it, Eric, Andrew, or Wen must die at the hands of the other. Leonard warns that if they do not decide a plague will be unleashed upon the earth until no one is left alive. One by one, the strangers will sacrifice one another to unleash the plague.

“…the apocalypse is coming and in order to stop it, Eric, Andrew, or Wen must die at the hands of the other.”

Knock at the Cabin is a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. I think doing an adaptation was the trick considering the mystery of the novel was successful and if anything, M. Night is a master at the thriller and a master at building tension. The surprised endings tend to be his downfall…or his greatest success. In the case of this film, the ending is set in stone and Night doesn’t veer from it.

Again, Knock at the Cabin is master thriller storytelling. The film is a tight hour-forty and hits the ground running with the opening image of a grasshopper. As little Wen, Kristin Cui is cute as hell and the perfect counter to Dave Bautista’s Leonard. Bautista absolutely shines as he carries much of the film’s tension. There’s also a moment near the end between Eric and Andrew that will break your heart and make you believe in love again.

As a thriller, I thankfully never read the novel but may get the audiobook. Knowing nothing about the story, I was guessing the entire time. Is this apocalyptic proposition real? Is it a master deception? Are they strangers delusional? Why are these strangers so sure of their destinies? Did these “strangers” create an elaborate plan to terrorize a gay couple? Before you ask, it is absolutely vital to the story and the ending that this be a gay couple faced with a world-ending decision.

In terms of thrills, the film is terrifying without ever showing actual tragedy or horror. That said, my only negative about the film is that the story is pretty straightforward. The story flows like a mighty river and never alters its course. For spoiler’s sake, I don’t want to say more than that. I’ll end by saying there is a lore here that is unexplored and unexplained at the end, which I assume is in the book, but I wish was explained even a little.

Knock at the Cabin is a thriller with great performances and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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