This movie is a Harrowing Examination of Faith, Reality, and Family Ties.
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, “Knock At The Cabin,” is a departure from his previous work, but still delves into familiar thematic territory. Based on Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin At The End Of The World,” the film is a harrowing home invasion thriller that will leave audiences questioning the choices they would make in the face of an impossible decision.
A Devastating Domestic Hypothetical
The film begins with seven-year-old Wen (Kristen Cui) catching grasshoppers outside the vacation cabin her dads Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) have rented. Wen is approached by a large stranger who introduces himself as Leonard (Dave Bautista), but as three more strangers emerge from the woods carrying bladed weapons, Wen starts to realize something is wrong. Despite her attempts to warn her parents, the strangers break into the cabin, capturing Eric and Andrew in the process.
With the family captive, Leonard presents them with a choice: they must choose one of the three strangers as a willing sacrifice, or a series of plagues will consume humanity. This obviously absurd claim serves as the basis for a contained scenario that undermines the characters’ sense of reality, as the four intruders grapple with their shared visions of an imminent apocalypse, and Eric and Andrew examine their beliefs and what they are willing to do for each other.
An Intense Performance-Driven Thriller
Staged almost entirely within the titular cabin, Shyamalan draws attention to the excellent performances he coaxes from his cast. Groff and Aldridge are a convincingly loving couple, while Bautista steals the show as Leonard, a man with a voice too small for his frame and a reluctant leader who bears the weight of inhuman necessity.
Shyamalan also opts for tight close-ups, allowing the audience to see the emotionally conflicted faces of the characters. The result is a film that is both harrowing and intense, with doubt wavering over the conviction of every character as they grapple with a potentially distorted reality.
A Less Haunting but Satisfying Ending
The film’s climax takes a more concrete answer to the questionable apocalypse, which may be more satisfying for its definitive philosophical stance and conclusive plotting, but it lacks some of the complexity of belief, truth, and blind conviction explored in previous acts. The ending ties the emotionally messy story up a bit too neatly, but still leaves audiences with a haunting question: how would they handle such an impossible choice?
Overall, “Knock At The Cabin” is a step in the right direction for Shyamalan, and a must-see for fans of intense, character-driven thrillers. Whether you’re more concerned with the fate of one family or the fate of the world, this film will make you question what you believe and how far you are willing to go to protect the ones you love.
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