Knock At The Cabin (2023) Review

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Knock At The Cabin
Editors Choice

M. Night Shyamalan should be given a lot more credit these days, including with Knock at the Cabin. After nearly sinking his career with a string of awful movies in the late 2000s, his refocus to making almost entirely low-budget, small-scale thrillers from The Visit has reinvigorated him creatively to mostly successful results. Between the subversion of superhero universes of Glass or the sheer absurdity of Old, it may not work for everybody, but it’s hard to deny his creativity and sincere love to throw things off-kilter. If anything, the twist-loving director’s biggest (and best) surprise in his newest film, Knock At The Cabin, might be the lack of one.

Based on the 2018 novel A Cabin at the End of The World by Paul Tremblay, Knock At The Cabin follows a family consisting of husband and wife Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui). The family is on holiday in a remote cabin when it is invaded by a quartet of strangers led by the hulking but soft-spoken Leonard (Dave Bautista).

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Despite breaking in and carrying dangerous makeshift weapons, the group isn’t there to harm the family. Instead, they’re there to present them with a terrible choice: the family must decide which of the three will be sacrificed by their own hands in order to prevent an impending apocalypse. Not only that, but each time they refuse to choose, catastrophic plagues will strike the Earth, the last of which will condemn it to oblivion.

It’s a nightmarish twist on the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, and Shyamalan manages to maintain that tension throughout the 100-minute running time. The performances from the entire cast are on point. Dave Bautista continues to show his range with an incredible performance that commands attention every moment he’s on screen.

“Thanks to a great cast and solid script, Knock At The Cabin is legitimately one of Shyamalan’s most consistently solid movies in years.”

Despite being the biggest physical presence, I was most struck by his sensitivity and quiet desperation as the supposed potential apocalypse approached. The other intruders (Rupert Grint’s smarmy Redford, Nikki Amuka-Bird’s nurse Sabrina, and Abby Quinn as the young mother Adriane) don’t have much to do, but they do a good job with what they have.

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Although the story of Knock At The Cabin is about a potentially world-threatening event, almost all of Knock takes place inside the titular cabin. However, Shyamalan and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke (best known for his work on all three of Robert Eggers’ major films to date) make the most of the film’s limited setting with some inspired camerawork, using extreme close-ups and odd camera angles to keep us on the edge of our seats.

Although I haven’t read the original novel, I know that the second half takes a very different direction from the book. Shyamalan’s story focuses on the sincere love between the family members who survive between various hardships, flashing back to moments like disapproving parents to a homophobic attack. And while the original book left a degree of ambiguity, the film has a much tidier and more decisive ending, which may put some people off. Nevertheless, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge and newcomer Kristen Cui do a fantastic job as the family caught up in the situation.

Thanks to a great cast and solid script, Knock At The Cabin is legitimately one of Shyamalan’s most consistently solid movies in years. It’s the first time in a while that I genuinely found myself thinking for a while afterwards about how I would deal with a situation like that if I were forced to make that choice. I don’t know or think I’d be able to.

Final Thoughts

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