While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.
M. Night Shyamalan has had an interesting career, littered with genuinely innovative movies such as ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Signs’, before a period where frankly virtually every movie was a lot of old rubbish. His recent work has followed a similar vein, with ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’ getting good reviews, before the fun yet ridiculous ‘Old’ harked back to his mid to late 2000s nonsense twist period. ‘Knock at the Cabin’, his latest movie, is based on a 2018 horror novel by Paul Tremblay that explores what happens when a family are told they must sacrifice one of their own to prevent the apocalypse.
It begins with a cabin in the middle of the woods (so far, so template horror), where a couple and their adopted daughter have travelled to spend some time together. They are interrupted by four individuals, led by Dave Bautista’s Leonard, who have been drawn to this location and to this family to share worrying news about the end of the world, a fate that can only be halted by one of the three killing each other. The entertainment value and tension in the movie comes from pondering, as the family do, if these crazy individuals could actually be telling the truth, or as is more likely, they are part of some strange murder cult.
Shyamalan gets a lot of mileage out this premise, aided by Dave Bautista’s calm and chilling performance at the heart of the movie. Bautista is genuinely great and it’s probably past the point we need to keep calling this out as a surprise given his past as a wrestler, but he really does bring a lot of warmth and sadness to some of these roles. It also benefits from Shyamalan’s filmmaking economy – to his credit he wastes little time getting into the crux of the movie and he does appear to be a rare filmmaker who seems willing to show some restraint when it comes to runtime. That means we get straight into the ‘are they who they say are’ part of the narrative, which is really what this movie is all about.
Ultimately I found ‘Knock at the Cabin’ too silly to fully recommend but there are aspects of it that I did enjoy, and it does present another opportunity for Dave Bautista to cement his status as one of the most surprisingly interesting actors around today.
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint