There is a rare complaint I have about movies and typically I feel the complete opposite but as I sit to write this review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin, I continue wishing that it was longer. Typically when I leave the theater, I say to myself that it could have been shorter in some places. With Knock at the Cabin, I just wanted more. The cast was fantastic, the tension was very tight, and the concepts were fascinating. M. Night also breaks the expectations of him as a director to have some world shattering twist as the story is based off a book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay.
The story of Knock at the Cabin follows a couple and their daughter who are trapped in their cabin by 4 mysterious strangers. They are forced to make a choice of sacrifice or else the world may very well end.
Knock at the Cabin has a simple premise which I figured would be perfect for its 1 hour 40 minute run time. But through the film, they introduce new concepts for the strangers and the couple that just made me wish we go to see them more fleshed out. Some of the things should have been left a mystery to make you question if things were as true as the strangers said or not though. I will shy away from spoilers for the film but each of the strangers carries as unique weapon. Like so truly unique that they are hand-built by their wielder but it’s never really commented upon. These 4 items would have been fascinating to find out the why of each especially with the significance each stranger has.
Dave Bautista is the star of Knock at the Cabin from start to finish. I have only known Bautista as an actor since Guardians of the Galaxy and go out of my way to see every film that he is in. I find him fascinating as an actor because despite being what could be a typical action movie star with his muscles and tattoos, I often find his performances most moving because of how emotionally raw he can get. Coming off of last years Glass Onion where he did play a meat head styled character, he’s playing someone a lot more complex in this film. The film opens with him having a conversation with the daughter Wen, played by Kristen Cui. Their conversation is not one of an adult talking down to a child but on the same level. Bautista gets down on her level and talks with her about catching crickets and different topics to get to know her. It’s a painful scene as the film progresses because we know why he was there in the first place. When you find out more about Bautista’s character Leonard, you feel bad for him because he sells the role so well. I hope people walk away from this film with a deeper appreciation for him as an actor and he keeps getting the chance to take on new roles.
When most people see a M. Night Shyamalan film, they assume that there is going to be a twist. It is how he has labeled himself with nearly all of his films. It is unfair to an artist to think they are a one trick pony which I had to catch myself doing when I saw this. I wanted a twist, I won’t lie. M. Night is the modern master of the twist in horror films like this. But with this being based on a book, it was interesting to see so much of it played straight despite hints at it being otherwise. I want to make your expectations clear so you aren’t gripping your seat the entire time asking when the other shoe will drop like I did. It’s a really interesting film without that big moment where you are like “OH!”.
Even if Knock at the Cabin could have been longer to explore concepts and relationships more, it’s worth the ticket price to go see. From some real palpable tension to the performance of Dave Bautista in a complex role, I truly enjoyed the film and I hope you do too. I just don’t think I’ll be doing any weekend cabin trips in Pennsylvania anytime soon.