‘Knock at the Cabin’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

In Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World,” he explores religious themes and how compassionate humanity is. When four people knock on their cabin door while on vacation, they speak on Judgement Day, and the apocalypse is near. Tremblay explores two sides of faith in this novel, and M. Night Shyamalan follows through in the adaptation of Knock at the Cabin. The two father’s in the film, Daddy Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Daddy Eric (Jonathan Groff), have different responses to the prophecy presented to them: one family member must be sacrificed, or the world population will die. The concept doesn’t seem to be something that can be fleshed out into a film, but Shyamalan works his magic and creates a good thriller. 

The film opens with young Wen (Kristen Cui) out in this beautiful forest catching grasshoppers while her dads are inside. Within moments, the atmosphere shifts because of the chilling score and figure out in the distance. Shyamalan uses his surroundings to make Wen feel small, tapping into the child’s perspective. As the large man named Leonard (Dave Bautista) approaches her, the score becomes more sinister, and Shyamalan utilizes extreme close-ups to show that something isn’t quite right. Since the statement, “Don’t talk to strangers,” has been drilled into our minds, as audience members, we feel uneasy on behalf of Wen. There’s this instant connection whenever there’s a child involved. Leonard communicates with her in a very even tone and tries to become friends by using shared interests. In a way, he manipulates her to get inside the cabin. 

The visual language of this film enhances the experience of the situational thriller because of the choices used for violent or graphic scenes. Shyamalan uses unique framing compositions and extreme close-ups to shift the tone inside the cabin. The camera angles used during fights or sacrifices place the viewer in a vulnerable position which isn’t conventionally used. Furthermore, Shyamalan doesn’t show some of the graphic kills. Instead, he moves the camera away while you hear what’s happening. The reason why this is a good thriller is because of the atmosphere that is created surrounding the characters in the story. There is no depth to any of the characters, and the biblical parallels are kept at the surface level, as we’ve seen it all before. However, Shyamalan’s unique vision makes it engaging. 

Knock at the Cabin shows how having faith or being a realist can have pros and cons. Shyamalan’s visual style and pacing of this film create so much tension that you will be glued to the screen throughout. The performances by Ben Aldridge and Dave Bautista carry the film, as their characters challenge each other about the truth of the apocalypse. The story is repetitive, but due to the strong pacing, it breezes by, and you contemplate what you would do in this situation. As someone who is not a big fan of Shyamalan’s work, this is one of his better projects because it’s an adaptation with a linear storyline that’s easy to grasp. It’s more so the feeling the film evokes with the premise lingering in the background, and he ultimately lets the audience process everything on their own. 


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