Plot via IMDB;
Wen, only seven years old, is vacationing with her two dads, Eric and Andrew, at a remote cabin. While catching grasshoppers, she is approached by a stranger named Leonard. Initially friendly, he explains that he needs Wen and her parents’ help to save the world. However, Wen becomes suspicious when three other people appear with makeshift weapons. Wen flees to warn Eric and Andrew, but the visitors break into the cabin and tie them up, with Eric sustaining a concussion. Leonard and his companions claim that they have never met before this day and have no intention of harming the family. However, in the past week, they have been driven by visions and an unknown force to find the family as they are predicting an impending apocalypse. Vision or illusion?
Knock at the Cabin is M. Night Shyamalan’s low budget Apocalyptic fright fest. It’s basically a debate on what needs to be done to stop the Apocalypse interspersed with moments of action, terror and suspense. Mix in some good manners, honest empathy on the part of these four home invaders for their victims and what needs to be done, a hell of a lot of muttering on Revelation prophecy, and you get a fairly passable movie that debates big questions of belief vs disbelief, the nature of God as truth and what is the right way to be human in face of the world’s end or if faced with a Sophie’s Choice situation.
For those who took ethics and philosophy in college they would recognize the Trolley Problem setup. Would you, the classic version goes, run over one person with a trolley if doing so meant you could save five people on the other track? The variation that home invader and religious zealot Leonard (Dave Bautista) proposes to little child Wen (Kristen Cui) and her adopted family of gay fathers, Eric and Andrew (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) is at once grander and more intimate. Would you willingly sacrifice yourself or someone you loved to prevent a global apocalypse?
Shyamalan answer is the more optimistic ending than the nihilistic finish provided in the Paul Tremblay source novel (The Cabin at the End of the World). It’s manages to save both the world and family. Really the only solution allowed for a mass market aimed feature film. It’s more interested in thoughts and tender sentiments than in fright or shock. And in a surprise for Shyamalan fans, the only twist is that the director doesn’t delver a twist ending.
The plot just offers stark and simple choices. Either Leonard and his pals are telling the truth or they’re out of their minds. Andrew and Eric will believe them or not. The film’s effectiveness depends on what occurs on the way to the answers. Cabin is all about the shock and feel, the guilt and empathy for mankind that comes from those who are compelled to act on their Apocalyptic visions. The why on how these fringe types can see themselves as heroes and saviors.
Aldridge and Goff do what they can to overcome the blandness of their gay characters. They are the only ones who get flashbacks. Since they are not playing Apocalyptic character symbols like their captors, they are allowed to live, breath, think and act independently.
Still it’s, Bautista’s movie and he delivers the menace, wit and grit that keeps Cabin credible, dangerous, and suspenseful. He makes it a delightful thrill ride in a toy trolley.
Knock at the Cabin gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
- M. Night Shyamalan
- Steve Desmond
- Michael Sherman
- M. Night Shyamalan
- Marc Bienstock
- Ashwin Rajan
- Jarin Blaschke
- Lowell A. Meyer
Noemi Katharina Preiswerk
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
- January 30, 2023(Rose Hall)
- February 3, 2023(United States)