Knock at the Cabin Review-A Film With a Philosophical Question that is the Key to It’s Success

M. Night Shyamalan’s career has been a bit hit-and-miss. Ever since it started with the Sixth Sense back in 1999. He started pretty well with three fantastic films out of the gate but started to falter in the mid to late 2000s with dud after dud. It wasn’t until he put out The Visit in 2015 and partnered with Universal Pictures and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions that he was able to turn around his luck. Since then he’s been on a pretty good streak of success with Split, Glass, and Old. Knock at the Cabin is his latest film and he hopes to continue his success with this film.

The movie starts out very quickly as a young girl Wen (Kristen Cui) is approached outside the cabin she is staying at with her two dads, Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff) by a man who calls himself Leonard (Dave Bautista). He and his friends Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) Redmond (Rupert Grint) and Adrianne (Abby Quinn) have a proposal for the three inhabitants of the cabin. After forcibly breaking in they proceed to tell the three people who they are and why they are there. They give the two men and child a philosophical question they must answer. And if they don’t the world will come to an end.

Knock at the Cabin is based on the book by author Paul G Trembley called Knock at the Cabin at the End of the World. The screenplay is written by Shamylan Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman. From word of mouth and scuttlebutt, they stay pretty close to the source material. The script is very strong and the dialogue said by the four invaders is very good. They have a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to the plot and the story so the dialogue has to be on point. Their story needs to make sense even if the three vacationers in the cabin by the lake don’t believe them. This story was very believable to me watching the film. 

Shyamalan is a matter of the twist in his films and surprise endings. So going into this film everyone including me thought this movie would have some kind of twist or surprise ending that would turn the film on its head. And I’ll be the first to say the so-called twist is almost nonresistant but the story speaks for itself. How the story is set up for the viewers you’d think there was a twist ending but it’s pretty straightforward. The characters give all the information away in their dialogue so it’s up to us as the ones watching if we believe what we’re seeing or not. That’s the question the movie is trying to make us answer.

Shyamalan has always gotten big actors to star in his films but this time around he relied on more character actors and one big, in-stature, actor, Dave Bautista. His claim to fame before becoming a movie star was that he was in the WWE. He’s far from that world now. Bautista is usually known for his action or comedy films but here he’s the straight guy. He is very friendly but also very serious. He has a good side to him because he’s an elementary school teacher so he is the caring type. He stretches his acting chops further than I’ve ever seen him do before in his career. This may be the best work of his career.

The rest of the cast are very good as well. It was good to see Rupert Grint in something new besides the Harry Potter franchise. Some of the others I’ve seen in a tv show here or there but Kristen Cui, I don’t remember seeing in anything that I can remember. She was a pleasant surprise to me. She held her own with much more established actors and proved she has the ability to handle some very dramatic scenes. This film had a lot of those and as a child actor, she held her own. I would very much like to see her in something else in the future. She’s a star in the making.

The movie has a beautiful aesthetic to it besides the story and acting. The cinematography by Jarin Blaschke is amazing. The outside of the cabin looks gorgeous but how he was able to use the outside light to brighten up the scenes inside the cabin was exceptional. There wasn’t a scene that looked underlit or dark for that matter. Being able to see the characters clearly was a key element of the overall story. Their clothes and complexions were part of that as well. This was a beautiful-looking film.

Knock at the Cabin wouldn’t seem like the kind of thing Shyamalan would direct but in hindsight, it was perfectly in his wheelhouse. He tells the viewer everything they need to know for them to decide on why these people are doing what they’re doing and if it’s right or wrong. The viewer along with the family has to make that decision for themselves. He puts us into the film. That’s a brilliant idea if you ask me. The question is a difficult one but that’s what the film is about. Along with good performances from Bautista and the newcomer Cui and fantastic cinematography, the movie is worth the price of admission. It won’t be for everybody but it was a very rewarding experience for me. Shyamalan is on a winning streak once again.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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