In Knock at the Cabin, Eric and Andrew take their seven-year-old daughter Wen, to a remote cabin in the woods for some rest and relaxation. But shortly after they arrive, four strangers turn up at the cabin, demanding to be let inside.
The strangers – led by a hulking man named Leonard – inform Eric and Andrew they are here to discuss a very urgent matter. This matter is something which must be voiced now, because it is of the utmost importance.
Worried for their safety, as well as the safety of their daughter, Eric and Andrew refuse to let the strangers in. However, this does not deter the group, who force their way inside the cabin regardless.
Once inside, Leonard and Co. tie up Eric and Andrew and inform them they’ve been chosen to make an important sacrifice. Within the next day, one of them must choose to die: Either Eric, Andrew, or Wen.
If they don’t make a choice, the fate of the world is at stake. Extinction level events will follow, and the human race will be wiped out.
Directed and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (Old, Signs, etc), and based on Paul G. Tremblay’s book, The Cabin at the End of the World, Knock at the Cabin stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, and Rupert Grint. The movie is a dark, psychological horror-thriller, which is new to UK and US cinemas from today.
Knock at the Cabin is a tense picture, with an intriguing premise, a strong cast, and a fairly tight story. The movie includes all the visual flair and story-telling techniques one might except from an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and for the majority of its run Knock at the Cabin is one of his strongest films.
It doesn’t quite reach the top tier for me, because I feel it doesn’t nail everything it sets out to do, but this is still an excellent picture. Knock at the Cabin is an attention-grabbing, and attention-holding film, with plenty of depth and it is most certainly worth a watch.
The first twenty-minutes of Knock at the Cabin are truly superb. This opening section is tense and pretty terrifying stuff, which draws its audience in straight away and ensures everyone is left with sweaty palms.
The stand-out star here (and throughout the rest of the movie) is Dave Bautista as Leonard. He arrives at the cabin ahead of his colleagues for a short interaction with Wen, and it’s not quite clear what his intentions are during this opening act, or what will happen next.
Once the film moves past the opener, it then settles into a really consistent groove which it maintains for the majority of the picture. While this section of Knock at the Cabin isn’t quite as nerve-wracking as what came before, it still remains tense, suspenseful, and compelling, especially during scenes in which Eric and Andrew (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) are continually asked to make a sacrifice.
This part of the movie is also intercut with short sequences which detail Eric and Andrew’s relationship as a same-sex couple. These scenes help to strengthen their characters, making their sacrifice even more difficult, and they also allow the movie to take a few little tension breaks when required.
So, up until this point, everything about Knock at the Cabin is very effective, and had the film then taken a step forward, and ended on a high, I’d certainly be placing this movie up there with the likes of The Sixth Sense (1999) or Unbreakable (2000). However, the reason Knock at the Cabin doesn’t quite sit side-by-side with Shyamalan’s best pictures, is because the ending falls a little short.
After a superb opening, and a robust middle, Knock at the Cabin stumbles as it heads toward the finish line, delivering a passable finale, but not quite a satisfying one. The wrap-up is nowhere near as strong as the rest of the movie, and this is the film’s weak link.
While the final section of the movie doesn’t quite cut the mustard, this shouldn’t deter anyone from checking it out – Knock at the Cabin really does have plenty to offer. It touches upon a number of topical talking points, including climate disaster, hate crimes, prejudices, and indoctrination; it features excellent direction from Shyamalan; and it boasts a scene-stealing turn from Bautista.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how good Bautista is as an actor, and this film continues to drive that conversation home. There is a reason that directors such as Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Rian Johnson (Glass Onion), James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), and M. Night Shyamalan want to work with him, because he delivers time-and-time again.
In front of the camera, this is very much Bautista’s movie. While behind the camera, it is Shyamalan through and through.
With lots of Oscar-related movies out at the moment, which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Knock at the Cabin is a breath of fresh air. It is an entertaining, and sometimes thoughtful picture, which is filled to the brim with suspense, loaded with social commentary, and topped off with excellent performances.
Yes, it does stumble a little, and this is a shame, but it maintains a high standard for long enough that it this doesn’t derail the picture. Knock at the Cabin is well worth your time, and if you are looking for some thrilling escapism this weekend head to your local cinema.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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