- Hamish Hart
Knock at the Cabin (2023) Review
IT'S safe to say director M. Night Shyamalan hasn't had the greatest track record in terms of film quality. Despite his movies being lambasted by general audiences and critics alike, movie-goers continue to shell out money in hopes Shyamalan has recaptured his magic unseen since 1999's The Sixth Sense. However, many are praising his latest feature as a major step-up for the filmmaker, claiming Knock at the Cabin is his best work in over 20 years - but are these bold allegations justified?
While vacationing in a secluded cabin, married couple Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) are taken hostage by a group of strangers, led by grade-school teacher Leonard (Dave Bautista), uniting for a common cause: to prevent the impending apocalypse. But when Eric and Andrew learn they must sacrifice a member of their family to do so, tensions rise and blood boils as time is running out for everybody.
Despite sounding like a tale ripped right out of Shyamalan's imagination, Knock at the Cabin borrows its apocalyptic-scenario from 2018's award-winning novel The Cabin at the End of the World written by Paul Tremblay. The movie borrows heavily from the aforementioned novel, particularly the character's motivations and arcs they're left to traverse, yet the outcomes for much of the leading cast is severely different; some changed for the better while some felt arbitrary and made due to alleged studio interference. These minuet differences failed to change my overall opinion on the film though as either way you slice things, there was no fixing the main problem with the movie: pacing.
One hundred minutes may not seem like a long runtime, that's because it isn't. Knock at the Cabin manages to drag out its average length to create an experience which overstays its welcome by the half-way point, resulting in scenes featuring repeated information and pointless moments that don't factor into a crucial plot such as the world ending.
What manages to save Knock at the Cabin from ending up in the same dumpster pile of other horrendous Shyamalan films is, surprisingly, the performances. With a film with as small a cast as this one, a good selection of actors was needed for it to succeed, and while the script may not work in their favour, Aldridge and Groff do well in their lovers roles by having genuine chemistry with one another as they express realistic emotion and reactions upon hearing their sacrifice is needed. Rupert Grinch, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Abby Quinn all do a decent job in their heinous yet remorseful roles, with Quinn standing out among the three due to glimpses of greatness emerging throughout the film's more intense scenes in the third act. But at the end of the day, there was no surprise that the premiere actor ended up being Dave Bautista; his vicious demeanour combined with his repentant attitude blended together to create a character that appeared irredeemable yet by the end had amended his ways.
Knock at the Cabin had potential to bring M. Night Shyamalan back to award-winning prominence, but poor pacing and an unsatisfying ending brought about a different kind of apocalypse. While it may not be his worst movie, far from it in fact, Shyamalan's latest is as average as a film can get; boring, derivative, and monotonous.