Does “Knock At The Cabin” feel like an M. Night film? Not really
M. Night Shyamalan is a name we’ve all heard, and for good reason. He has a talent for unexpected twists and turns, with the last 30 minutes of his films presenting outcomes that his audience rarely expects. It’s part of his genius, but it’s also led us to expect a level of mind-fuckery from him. His latest, Knock at the Cabin, doesn’t do it in the way you might expect.
The film follows Andrew (Jonathan Groff), Eric (Ben Aldridge) and Wen (Kristen Cui) as the family spends their vacation in a—you guessed it—cabin in the middle of no-cellphone-reception-county. As Wen is trying to catch grasshoppers to study, Leonard (Dave Bautista) walks over to her and makes friends. But when Wen sees other people coming, she rushes inside their temporary home to warn her dads. Leonard shouts something about how she should remember they’re friends, no matter what’s about to happen.
After a scuffle and more than a few threats, Leonard makes his way into the cabin with Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Adriane (Abby Quinn) and Redmond (Rupert Grint). Led by Leonard, the four of them explain that Andrew, Eric and Wen must sacrifice of someone in order to save the world.
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The film is quick, a mere 100 minutes in an age where two-hour films are the norm. The scenes are fast, the deaths are swift, the world ending is quick. Everything feels like a ticking time bomb, and there’s barely a moment to catch up. Andrew and Eric have little to no time to themselves, let alone to think. Every time they refuse to sacrifice someone, Leonard opens the television to show them what’s happening to the rest of the world: mountain-high tsunamis, a pandemic that’s killing children, planes falling out of the sky, lightning strikes.
And it’s in these quick moments where we see the cast shine. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Dave Bautista in a soft-but-smart role, clearly proving that he’s more than the muscleman trope we’ve been finding him under. Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge’s chemistry is so apparent—I sat there in the cinema believing they would do anything for each other, the world be damned. Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Abby Quinn, in the brief moments they have on screen, shine.
Knock at the Cabin had all the right pieces, and for that, it’s a movie worth the watch. The way the camera zoomed in on each scene, never letting you see the full picture, was frustrating because the film is meant to frustrate you. The slow dissolve of Andrew’s resolution despite Eric’s incredible points (Why would they, a same-sex couple mercilessly taunted by the world, save the world?) was painful to watch.
It is the mere premise of Knock at the Cabin that fucks you up. But other than that? Not much—at least not as much as you’d expect from an M. Night film. It seems the seasoned director took a much more direct approach with this.
But I did need more convincing. We hear a lot about Andrew and Eric’s thought process, but not enough from Leonard and his gang of normal-people-turned-doomsday-stoppers. Other than their “visions” coming to light on TV, the foursome had nothing to back them up. Of course they weren't going to agree. If anything, I would have loved to have had that internal struggle that Andrew and Eric were having, but Knock at the Cabin just didn’t seem to get me there.
Why sacrifice the love of your life for the world, especially if the people telling you of the consequences can barely verbalize the reason for their request? Alternatively, why save the world at all?
Hey, see for yourself. Answer the questions by watching “Knock at the Cabin,” which is already showing in cinemas.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver