Knock at the Cabin
A family must is faced with an impossible choice, be the only survivors of the apocalypse or save the world by sacrificing one of their own.
Spoiler Level: Spoiler section warning included.
A family consisting of two dads and their adopted daughter is on vacation at a secluded cabin in the woods. Young Wen (Kristen Cui) is collecting grasshoppers in the yard to study while Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) enjoy some time out on the deck. Wen is approached by Leonard (Dave Bautista) who softly talks to the girl, but the tone soon turns dark and Wen runs into the cabin to fetch her fathers. Leonard is joined by three other “friends”, Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Adriane (Abby Quinn), and Redmond (Rupert Grint). The quartet break into the cabin and Eric is knocked unconscious in the struggle, but is tenderly cared for by Sabrina, who is a nurse. The couple and their daughter are informed that in order to avoid the apocalypse, the trio must decide to sacrifice one of them. If they refuse, they will live, but the rest of the world will perish. The family believes them to be delusional, and the majority of the movie is either about escaping or trying to convince the family that the world is about to end. The four strangers don’t know why they were chosen and had never met each other before, but they were all given visions of the end of times and compelled to travel to this cabin to carry out their quest. Are the strangers just deluded members of a cult? Or is the end of times really upon us? And can Andrew and Eric escape with Wen, or will they finally have to make the difficult choice to kill a member of their loving family? Watch to find out!
Spoiler Alert Warning: I normally try to not include spoilers as much as possible in my reviews, but in order to really talk about this film and its themes there are some aspects that I must disclose. So be forewarned. Knock at the Cabin is an adaptation of the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay with a screenplay written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I found this movie interesting and entertaining, but a little hard to watch. It is not a feel-good movie as what you are watching for the majority of the movie is a family in torment. First, they believe they are being targeted for being gay, and so are in fear of what the strangers will do to them. When they do begin to believe that what they are being told is true, there is a lot of denial, but ultimately, they are faced with a no-win situation choice. What is fascinating about the story is that the four strangers, who of course represent the biblical “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” aren’t the normal Conquest (sometimes referred to as Pestilence), War, Famine, and Death but are in some ways the opposite. They are the representations of humanity making them Malice, Nurture, Healing, and Guidance and with each one’s death, a new portion of the population is wiped out. The color of shirt each of the stranger’s wear, also correspond with the color of the horse mentioned in the bible.
As a whole, the movie is well directed and well-acted. M. Night kept the tone and much of the plot of the source material but changed many of the plot points most notably changing the end of the film and how each of the strangers eventually die. I am conflicted as to which version I like better. Would the book’s original ending have worked better on film than what Shyamalan eventually decided to do. Both endings are heartbreaking. Dave Bautista is unsettling as Leonard, a sort of gentle giant who doesn’t like what he has to do but knows that if he doesn’t do it the planet will not survive. His acting is passable, but I felt it was lacking that magic spark that would have helped me connect better with the character. I like Dave Bautista, but I am not sure this was the right part for him. Rupert Grint, best known as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise of films, does a good job as the more violent and unpredictable of the strangers and his past connection to the couple serves to add doubt that what the quartet is doing is real or a delusion. Abby Quinn and Nikki Amuka-Bird are definitely the most likeable of the quartet and you can feel their pain and emotion surrounding their actions. Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge are very good as the couple faced with an impossible situation and their heartfelt and sometimes subtle performances are the rock this movie is founded on.
Although I liked the film and thought it was well directed with some good cinematography, it was lacking in some character development and exploration. The flashback scenes of Eric and Andrew’s life before this fateful vacation do lend some expositional information to the story, but the connections aren’t really explored in enough detail to really create the connection the audience needed to take this from a good movie to a great movie.
Not one of M. Night Shyamalan's best films, but definitely not one of his worse. It is entertaining, but a bit sad and not really a "feel good" film. You can now stream on several different services and will eventually be released on Peacock.
Knock at the Cabin: To Save the World, One Must Die!
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 9/109/10