Knock at the Cabin Review – The Return of Good Shyamalan

Knock at the Cabin

A handful of directors have had a roller coaster of a career, but none wilder than M. Night Shyamalan. His first couple of films (rightfully) gave him a ton of praise. Still, afterward, he released several awful movies that should’ve derailed his entire career. However, he returned with terrific films like The Visit and Split. Then, he returned to the drudges to release such stinkers as Glass and Old. Thankfully, Knock at the Cabin (based on Paul G. Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World) puts him back in the win column and shows how effective Shyamalan can be without any of the tricks, gimmicks, and twists that defined his early career.

Those who have followed his career should still be able to recognize his familiar storytelling formula. Knock at the Cabin sets the stage quickly but slowly builds the tension and drama until its grand finale. As with his other films, Knock features themes that play into who we are as human beings. Whether it’s our fears or what it’s like to be a hero, Knock at the Cabin is a thought-provoking morality play. It looks at a family’s choice: Save a world that mocks and ridicules them, or let the world burn and wander a scorched Earth alone. All of this while wondering if this Nostradamus-style prophecy is true or not.

Knock at the Cabin puts him back in the win column and shows how effective Shyamalan can be without any of the tricks, gimmicks, and twists that defined his early career.

The film is slow and methodical with its mystery reveals. The cast plays their parts beautifully to get audiences to buy into the mystery of right and wrong. Should you figure out the answers to the unknown, there’s still the emotional factor that comes with the morality themes of the movie. While this could become a total mess, some legitimate drama and tension come from the movie’s dramatic results. Much of that is due to the performances of Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, and Kristen Cui. Their relationship and chemistry as a family are palpable, and audiences will root for their success and survival. 

However, Shyamalan doesn’t make it easy on our feelings. On the other side of this equation are Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn, and Nikki Amuka-Bird. This group of people is not evil, nor do they have bad intentions. They are regular people with the unenviable task of convincing this family to make an impossible decision to save the world. Like Groff, Aldridge, and Cui, these actors play their parts beautifully. It also forces audiences to question what they should do if they were in Eric and Andrew’s situation.

Although M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t reinvent the wheel with this book adaptation, Knock at the Cabin shows that he still has some creative juice left in the tank. It also adds to the idea that Shyamalan’s films are good when they’re small-budget flicks. Once he goes past a budget threshold, then his movies will inevitably suffer (see: Glass, The Last Airbender, and After Earth). Also, Knock at the Cabin may polarize viewers as several themes and storylines rub people wrong. Nevertheless, if you felt cheated by Shyamalan after his recent efforts, put your skepticism aside and take a chance on Knock at the Cabin.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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