Knock at the Cabin Review

“My secret to all casting, and specifically kids, is cast good human beings.”
-M Night Shyamalan

These words from director M. Night Shyamalan hold true to many of his films, including Knock at The Cabin. Almost every character in the film seems to be a good person, and even the bad people have some good traits. The film has a premise that is startling and creative, and the characterizations are clever if somewhat off. The film lacks somewhat in its moments of terror and suspense, though, and the approach to its premise is cheesy. I also often had to ask myself where the film’s danger was going.

Knock at The Cabin has a setting that is typical for a film by Shyamalan—a cabin that is out in the middle of nowhere—like Signs (2002) and The Village (2004). It was also filmed, like some of his previous films, in areas surrounding New Jersey. Many of Shyamalan’s projects take place around the east coast because that’s where he lives and he doesn’t like to fly.

Knock at the Cabin begins with a girl, Wen, played by Kristen Cui, catching bugs and putting them in a jar. She has traveled to the cabin with her two dads, Eric and Andrew, played by Jonathan Groff and Ben Alridge. Wen is approached by a man named Leonard, played by Dave Bautista, and Wen, Eric, and Andrew soon find themselves being taken hostage by Leonard and his gang. The rest of Leonard’s gang are Sabrina, played by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Redmond, played by Rupert Grint, and Ardiane, played by Abby Quinn. The gang kidnaps them to help reverse an apocalypse. The crazy part of the situation is that the criminals try to remain friendly, but Wen, Eric, and Andrew are all scared for their lives, because they don’t know whether the apocalypse is a hoax or not.

Though the setup and the dialogue is a little hokey, it is also rather intriguing. But it’s hard to take the characters seriously in this odd film. Leonard is a very calm kidnapper, and Groff and Aldridge are a gay couple who are scared, but also kind of oblivious of the situation. I even found myself not following the situation at various points in the film. One of the problems is that the apocalypse doesn’t have a strong elaboration or foundation. It almost seemed that the apocalypse is just present on the back burner, so the film can create strange tensions among the characters.

I don’t want to elaborate too much on the apocalypse in the film, except to say that it’s not a common apocalypse, and it’s relatable to the world today. It also has fragments of strange fantasies mixed in with it. Fantasies in a film by Shyamalan tend to have meaning, and there is meaning to the fantasies in Knock at the Cabin. But again, the foundation for the apocalypse is lacking in the film.

Shyamalan has a gift as a filmmaker, and Knock at the Cabin is not terrible, but it’s not great either. It’s better than some of his previous films, but still lacks in quality. The film does have many surprises, and it can be suspenseful in a funny way. And as mentioned, the characterizations are off, but the film is still relatively fun and creative. Two and a half stars for Knock at the Cabin.


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