Title: Knock at the Cabin
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, Michael Sherman
Based on: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay
Producer: M. Night Shyamalan, Marc Bienstock, Ashwin Rajan
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint
Running time: 100 minutes
I'm a long-time fan of M Night Shyamalan's work, I've seen all of his films that he has written and directed. Shyamalan will always have detractors. But I believe that he's made some fantastic movies. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are perhaps the most memorable, but I also loved The Village and The Lady in the Water.
Sure, he's had a few wobbles, Devil and The Happening weren't his finest work, but who else is there out there making ten perfect movies in a row? Even Tarantino has made a few stinkers. And what is perfect anyway? Shyamalan is a very inventive and intelligent writer. I write film reviews… I wish I could write movies like he does. Shyamalan could have retired after The Sixth Sense and he would still have rightly been considered one of the greatest movie writers of the 1990s.
A Knock at the Cabin is an apocalyptic nightmare (adapted from the 2018 horror bestseller The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay) and while it may not be too everyone's taste it’s an interesting and well made movie. There are a few scenes that are a little grim, but there is also great dialogue and some interesting ideas.
A couple (Eric and Andrew) and their young daughter (Wen) are on holiday in a remote cabin in the woods, when they are taken hostage by four armed strangers who say that they must decide which of them will voluntarily die to prevent the end of the world. It’s a fairly slim plotline, but it works well in a confined setting, similar to a theatrical play.
In terms of the cast, I’m not much of a fan of Dave Bautista (Leonard) or his somewhat wooden acting. The same goes for Rupert Grint (Redmond) and they've done very little here to change that opinion. The rest of the cast are less well known and less important to the plot. I wonder if this film might have been improved by a better known, more talented cast.
Other reviewers have suggested that there are several strands of the story that are not satisfactorily resolved but this criticism can hardly be levelled squarely at Shyamalan as in this case he did not write the original material. And one might argue that viewers should not expect writers or directors to tie everything up with a neat little bow at the end of every film. Maybe there is some room to make your own conclusions and perhaps spark some conversation and debate. And A Knock at the Cabin will certainly do this, and will also reward repeats viewings to spot smaller details.
But if audiences will continue to expect the same from Shyamalan, expect twist endings, expect every film to be as mind blowing as The Sixth Sense then they will no doubt at least occasionally be disappointed.
I believe that Shyamalan has got plenty more interesting stories to share. Old for example proved that he could tell a great mystery and keep the tension and intrigue at a high level from start to finish.
Cabin in the Woods is an interesting, intriguing film with a great concept. It certainly is a film that will divide opinion to a high degree, but I really think that it is worth watching to find out for yourself.