REVIEW: Knock at the Cabin

Posted by Matthew Thornton on Sunday, April 23, 2023

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: Paul Tremblay, M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
Runtime: 100 mins
MPAA Rating: R

      M. Night Shyamalan, cerebral auteur turned meme filmmaker, has blessed audiences for two and a half decades with subversive visionary cinema. The scripts this man has penned are nothing short of inspirational. Thus, I was extremely disappointed to learn that his latest directorial feature is a shared writing credit and not an original screenplay. Rather, Knock at the Cabin is an adaptation of a Paul Tremblay novel Cabin at the End of the World with which I am wholly unfamiliar.

      A homosexual couple is vacationing in a cabin in the woods in rural Pennsylvania with their adopted/trafficked Southeast Asian daughter. An eclectic mix of zealous doomsday cultists headed by Dave Bautista and Ron Weasley corner them and demand one of the couple execute the other to stave off the apocalypse. The cultists show them worldwide news coverage of cataclysmic events and even begin committing ritual suicide one by one to demonstrate the sincerity of their convictions. Will one of them relent in time to save humanity?

      Alright…so that entire premise was revealed in the trailer and shockingly there is little traversal past what was already apparent. Early into first act, you are told the situation and how things will ultimately play out, and that is exactly how everything unfolds. No plot innovations, meaningful character development, or subversion of expectations (I guess that may be a sort of meta-subversion of expectations for Shyamalan). For how dire and universal the film’s stakes are, the proceedings are painfully boring. The presentation lacks style and energy, and the characters are devoid of charisma. Aside from the child actor, the acting is not even subpar; there is just nothing to this script. Seemingly provocative moments on paper are lifeless in realization imparting such a dull impact so as to be forgotten even before the end of this film’s thankfully short runtime.

      If you were expecting a more thorough review, I am going to subvert your expectations to make up for Shyamalan failing to meet mine. Call me when Shyamalan is sole writer and director on a project again.


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