Courtesy, Universal Studios

Movie Review: Knock at the Cabin

15:00 February 07, 2023
By: Fritz Esker

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the filmmaking scene with 1999's blockbuster hit The Sixth Sense. His next three films (Unbreakable, Signs, The Village) have their ardent fans and strong detractors (Unbreakable is my favorite of that trio). But after briefly appearing to go off the rails entirely with The Last Airbender, Lady in the Water, and The Happening, Shyamalan returned to making solid, modest genre fare. His latest, Knock at the Cabin, does not reach the heights of his best work, but it's an entertaining 99 minutes at the movies.

The film is an adaptation of the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay. Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff play Eric and Andrew, a married couple with an adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cue). The family goes on a holiday to an isolated cabin in the woods (no cell phone service). Four strangers (Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn) confront the family and explain that, if the family does not willingly sacrifice a member, the apocalypse will come. Eric and Andrew believe they are simply being held hostage by a death cult, but things begin happening that cause them to wonder if the strangers are being truthful.

The premise sounds like something out of a Stephen King short story, and Shyamalan at his best can pair brutal horror with the everyday and mundane like King can. Shyamalan has also always been good at finding creepy, creative ways to compose a shot and those skills are still on display here.

Like Old, the director's previous effort, Knock at the Cabin holds your attention but it's best not to think too hard about the plotting otherwise significant plot holes will emerge. But in the current era, it's nice to see a talented filmmaker making (relatively) low budget thrillers. So even when the flaws show up, I'm glad Shyamalan is still out there making movies.

Shyamalan is also noted for acting in his films in supporting roles. Sometimes, they don't work at all (Lady in the Water), but his cameo in Knock at the Cabin is genuinely funny.

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