M. Night Shyamalan, might be the definition of insanity. Over, and over as a storyteller and director, his formula stays the same. An exciting catch, wait for the twist. With Knock at the Cabin, bits and pieces of this idea are found throughout the runtime, leaning more towards the former, yet something felt different.
A family on vacation in a remote cabin has their plans interrupted by 4 visitors with news of a future apocalypse. The family is presented with an offer, or more so a deal. The visitors lead by Dave Bautista (Drax) who tells our vacationers that one of them must make the ultimate sacrifice, in order to save the world from impending doom, and kill another in the family. The 4 are each united telling us that they have each been shown visions, “First floods, then plague, the sky falling “like pieces of glass,” and then, at last, eternal darkness.”
The first few minutes are a great hook, and the story off the bat feels very Shyamalan-esc. Yet, in a twist itself, the filmmaking does not. The film’s use of extreme close-ups stands out from his other works. This technique is a subtle, impressive way to both keep the audience invested as well as adding suspense to what, in reality, is a movie filled with different scenes of dialogue in the same location.
Another camera angle that stood out was the static dolly motion toward the characters. It purposefully confuses the audience in a way that keeps the viewer invested as well. There’s one specific moment near the end in which the camera seems to not be focused on anything, but as the camera moves closer to a character, you begin to understand said camera motion and the change of framing, with the sequence reaching a suspense-filled conclusion.
One of the many fears of casting a child in a leading role, is that they will be terrible. Luckily, Kristen Cui as Wen is very entertaining to watch. The stand out would be Dave Bautista who plays Leonard. He does a great job at balancing emotion, you never quite know if he’s this creepy guy who’s in charge of a cult, or an honest man who’s doing what he believes is right.
There are moments in which the script cuts to times before the main story takes place, and these moments apply to one major moment, and other than that seem to be in the film only to make the runtime longer.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a ‘knock at the cabin.’ The directing felt refreshing from Shyamalan’s other works, and the story, aside from a few flashbacks, keeps you engaged. This won’t be seen as a classic thriller in years to come, but it is definitely a fun thriller on which to spend your time.
My Grade for Knock at the Cabin is a B+