‘Knock at the Cabin’ Movie Review

Knock at the Cabin Movie Review

M. Night Shyamalan is capable of greatness. We’ve seen in before with some of his earlier hits, namely 1999’s The Sixth Sense and 2002’s Signs. Even Unbreakable and The Village were pretty intriguing. So every time Shyamalan releases a new film, I’m filled with a sense of hope that this will be the film that rights the ship. So does Knock at the Cabin deliver that hope? Before I answer that, let me set the stage.

Knock at the Cabin is loosely based 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay. It tells the story of a young gay couple, Eric and Andrew, and their adopted daughter, Wen, who go on vacation to a remote cabin. However, things take a turn for the worst early in the film when the family is taken hostage by four armed strangers who have an unthinkable ask of the family. The couple must either sacrifice one of their lives or their child’s life to stop the apocalypse.

Knock at the Cabin Movie Trailer

Knock at the Cabin Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

The film starts off with a promising premise. And there’s no shortage of tense and well-acted moments. But, as the story goes on, it quickly falls apart with its implausible climaxes. The main issue here is the script.

The Script

Knock at the Cabin plays out differently from the book in some major ways, which, to be fair, I’ve not read. However, it’s a miss for me. The story feels wild and far-fetched. And had the film gone in a different direction (or had a twist at all), I might have had a different reaction.

My main issue is it’s not grounded in any reality, nor is it believable in any way, especially not as a psychological thriller. Why was this couple chosen to have the weight of the world placed on their shoulders? Sure, we get a handful of flashbacks to Eric and Andrew’s life together, including their adoption of Wen. Still, none of this context explains why everything is happening and why this family was chosen.

Knock at the Cabin
Photo Credit: Universal Studios

My initial interpretation of where the film was going…

My interpretation for most of the film was that there was a bigger message that Shyamalan was trying to convey. With every decision the family doesn’t make, a part of humanity dies. As the family sits (tied up) in disbelief of the narrative that they’re being fed, I thought that maybe this was an analogy for how we’re treating one another and how we’re treating our planet.

For example, we’ve all told ourselves before that we alone can’t make a difference in something. And the reality that if everyone thought this way, change would never come. So, by not deciding on significant world issues, perhaps Shyamalan is highlighting that we are, in fact, making a decision.

Halfway through the film, I thought this message felt a little heavy-handed and obvious. But I assumed that how easily some people digest conspiracy theories and fake news would also come into play, somehow rounding out this tale into something that felt more meaningful and impactful.

However, my above take on what the film was trying to say and where it was headed wasn’t correct. And at the end of the 1 hour and 40 minute run time, I was just sitting there, wondering why the film had been made.

Knock at the Cabin
Photo Credit: Universal Studios

The Acting

Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint all deliver solid performances. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this might be the best performance of Bautista’s career. He’s simply outstanding here. 

However, when you’re not buying into the overall narrative, it’s hard to fully buy into the performances, regardless of how good they may be.

Overall Thoughts

Knock at the Cabin is an ultimately unsatisfying experience. Despite an interesting premise and strong performances, the film falls flat in attempts to convince audiences of this implausible narrative. 

Knock at the Cabin Movie Review

Grade: D+


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