“Knock at the Cabin” Rating: 4/5
I always look forward to an M Night Shyamalan film because I never know what to expect. He’s provided a few gems that are unpredictable and inventive. He’s not adverse to concocting stinkers as well. “Knock at the Cabin” is a nice little thriller, featuring a family vacationing at a remote cabin. Early in their stay, they are visited by a group of strangers who present an unspeakable choice: sacrifice a family member to prevent the apocalypse. Are the strangers part of a brainwashed cult? Or is their warning legitimate?
A M Night film always intrigues me. He rarely makes movies that are great (in my opinion), but I always appreciate his ability to go outside the box and swing for the fences. I’d say I enjoy his films more than I don’t. We need more creative minds like him.
This entry in his filmography plays it a bit safer than normal. It was a good idea because his last few films were polarizing. I’m happy to say I really enjoyed this one. It doesn’t pull the rug from beneath the audience, but instead, tells a straightforward apocalypse story. Perhaps this is what M Night needs to get his career back on track?
Dave Bautista turns in a nice performance as the leader of this group. Each of the other cast members turn in impressive performances, too. The film stays within the confines of the cabin for the duration of the film. Outside of a few flashback moments, this small setting serves the story well. We’re constantly guessing where the story will go, or who is correct in this scenario. That kind of tension and intrigue is hard to sustain.
I did enjoy how each character was humanized in the midst of a very unpleasant situation. No one wanted to be involved; yet, each of the characters brought a unique perspective. It was particularly interesting when each of the invaders introduced themselves and provided backstories, making the entire situation more emotionally engaging.
While Shyamalan hits many of the right notes, a few pitfalls hold this one from greatness. A few wonky spurts of dialogue made me chuckle, as Shyamalan has struggled with this throughout his career.
The script is better than his last few films because he allows other (stronger) writers to course correctly where the story could have gone haywire. Certain segments of the film didn’t feel as tense or high stakes as the rest, especially the third act. I enjoyed the ending more than most seem to, but there’s no doubt the first act is the strongest.
I went into “Knock at the Cabin” with few expectations. I was pleasantly surprised with the tightly constructed story and constant thrills.
It makes me optimistic that Shyamalan can still craft a unique story that stands apart from the rest. Check it out of you enjoy a good thriller!
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