M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of horror novel “The Cabin at the End of the World” is an interesting feat, a film where what you don’t – or barely – see onscreen is where the details truly lie. “Knock at the Cabin” is a gritty film where faith arm-wrestles logic, where violence is meant to lead to redemption. But does an overall message land?
The film opens with our tiny protagonist Wen catching grasshoppers in the midst of a quiet forest, a setting as classic to the horror genre as the falling-in-love montage is to a rom-com. While her fathers relax on the cabin patio, Wen is introduced to Leonard, a Hulk-like figure whose “heart is broken” by the events he says will unfold this day. After he briefly tries to make friends with Wen, we see Leonard’s three colleagues yielding DIY weaponry approaching and wait for the next shoe to drop. Or in this case, for the knock at the cabin door to come.
We quickly learn that these “Four Horsemen” are followers of prophetic visions that have led them to trap our loving family – Wen, Eric, and Andrew – into making an impossible choice: saving their family or allowing the apocalypse. The foursome introduce this concept while trying to appeal to the three “chosen ones’” morality by introducing their backstories as if reading from their dating app profiles. They share that for every “no” the family gives, a plague will be released until mankind is extinguished forever.
With a soundtrack that includes upbeat snippets of “Boogie Shoes” and “Sugar Town,” and flashes between cartoons on the TV and Wen’s wide-eyed terror, it’s hard not to take yourself out of the sedentary and conspiracy-laced plot of “Knock at the Cabin”. (During one such TV flash, eagle-eyed fans will spot M. Night’s own cameo in an air fryer infomercial.) Overall, the film’s unoriginal plot and last-second twist leads to a blasé ending. As Coronado moviegoer and horror-buff Ashley Dettman stated: “The movie’s suspense keeps audience members on their toes, but the absence of any mind-blowing plot twists or good jump scares left the film feeling anticlimactic, unlike so many of M. Night’s other masterpieces. I think a lot of people who went into theaters knowing the director and genre, came out slightly disappointed.”
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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Actors: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ben Aldridge, Abby Quinn, Kristen Cui
Run Time: 1 hr 40 min
Rating: R for Violence & Language