Knock at the Cabin (2023)

Knock at the Cabin (2023)

2023 R 100 Minutes

Horror | Mystery | Thriller

While vacationing at a remote cabin, a young girl and her two fathers are taken hostage by four armed strangers who demand that the family make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse. With l...

Overall Rating

5 / 10
Verdict: So-So

User Review

  • d_riptide


    5 / 10
    M. Night Shyamalan somehow is consistent in how inconsistent his work can be; you never know how his projects will turn out until you go and see them yourself. So seeing the previews for Knock At The Cabin with his track record in mind, it looked like it would be ok. What we end up getting is a cabin that stands on a surprisingly sturdy foundation with solid bones but is disappointingly barren on the inside.

    Based off of a book that I can best describe as ‘interesting’, the concept looked like one Shyamalan could easily get lost into similar to “Old”. But his direction is an improvement from that film, modulating the performances better while honing in on the bleakness this presentation suits to have.

    Said presentation has an acceptable production design with a musical score aimed to be menacing and sour at the same time but only succeeds at the latter while the cinematography and editing beautifully, earthly capture the isolated condition of both the cabin and the heightened uneasiness that resonates from this cast of admittedly barren characters. Speaking of, if Groff and Aldridge display their characters with a sense of wholesomeness despite its banality, then Amuka-Bird, Quinn, and Grint’s portrayals of anger, fear and anxiety illustrate each of the roles given while Batista’s restrained, gentle giant is both disarming and alarming as the obvious standout.

    Acting wise, they exceed beyond what the characters require them and that’s not even going into the things I’m FRUSTRATED with.

    From what I researched, this book is one that forces its viewers to come to terms with currently divisive topics such as faith, sacrifice, humanity, personal liberty, violence and selflessness. Considering Shyamalan said this script was the fastest he had ever written, I figured he would’ve had no problem taking advantage of such themes. And……I don’t know.

    For a psychological thriller meant to turn the home invasion trope on its head, Shyamalan does a solid job placing all these thin characters in similar boats and identifying them more as victims of circumstances than anything truly malicious, although the concept of fanaticism with belief overtaking common sense is also taken into consideration; how we scramble to construct a narrative that fits out of the chaos that consumes us. It wants to feel biblical in nature as a thought-provoking experiment of the Trolley Dilemma but both the narrative structure and the story itself wrestles against what the initial setup tries to sell us and every beat that follows from then on is predictable, muted, superficial or annoying. More often than not, it’s all of these at the same time.

    Of course the problematic pacing doesn’t help matters either: the film stops dead multiple times to intersperse quite a few flashbacks that pad out the film at best and often futz with the claustrophobic tension and kill the pacing at worst. They constantly cut away from any violence that occurs on screen thus minimizes and hollows out any impact of the stakes THEY SET UP, it’s a total fundamental misuse of the R-rating, CGI is distracting whenever it IS used, any attempt at gallows humor is wasted and then there’s his trademark twist…..or lack thereof.

    Yes, you heard me. There is no twist in this movie. Most of his twists often spread more division than anything nowadays but in this one instance, adding another twist would’ve elevated the experience. It didn’t have to be THE twist from the book but something else.

    This story had the potential to take the piss out of an apocalyptic tale and make it influential and challenging but I feel like Shyamalan ended up taking the easy way out here. It’s honestly disappointing because this is the third apocalyptic film he’s dealt his cards with since The Happening and After Earth and this one was the CLOSEST to actually working.