When a certain director is attached to a project, the audience has an inkling on how things will pan out. Regards of whether it's a bad film or not, M. Night Shyamalan's name comes with certain expectations - and mainly a crazy twist that you don't see coming. For the third time (second if we don't count 'The Last Airbender') Shyamalan is adapting something for the big screen, a novel this time around, in the most grounded horror film in his filmography.
Couple Eric (Jonathan Groff, 'Frozen', TV's 'Glee') and Andrew (Ben Aldridge, 'Spoiler Alert', TV's 'Fleabag') are staying at a cabin in the woods with their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) when they get a 'Knock at the Cabin' from Leonard (Dave Bautista, 'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Dune'), Sabrina (Abby Quinn, 'Little Women', 'After the Wedding'), Adriane (Nikki Amuka-Bird, 'Old', 'The Personal History of David Copperfield') and Redmond (Rupert Grint, 'Harry Potter' franchise, 'Postman Pat: The Movie'). Leonard gives them an ultimatum: sacrifice one of them or the apocalypse will happen. The team claims to have had visions of the end of the world and have been called to this cabin to prevent it. Eric and Leonard think they are crazy and constantly poke holes in their story but as doomsday looms, will the couple turn around and prevent their claim of the end of the world?
SWITCH: 'KNOCK AT THE CABIN' TRAILER
This is an incredibly tame entry in the Shyamalan-verse. The film is very straightforward and, due to its closed setting with the film staying in the cabin for most the run time, it doesn't reach any kind of interesting heights. What does aid the film are the performances from the entire cast, especially Bautista and Aldridge, but newcomer Kristen Cui is a knockout. The performances suck you in, but the film never gets over the grand idea of would you sacrifice a family member to save the world?
Extremely light spoiler warning for the next paragraph.
As aforementioned, Shyamalan films often are known for their twists, and 'Knock at the Cabin' strays from that trope. From reading a quick plot overview of the novel 'The Cabin at the End of the World' by Paul Tremblay, the novel's ending is much more opened-ended and seems like something we are used to seeing from the director, but as always things change in adaption and that could be to keep this film more M-rated (or PG-13 in the U.S.), but the way the film plays out is much more straightforward. Quickly on that note, the lower rating did aid the gore on the film; by panning away from the kills it created a much more gruesome effect.
This is an incredibly tame entry in the Shyamalan-verse. The film is very straightforward and, due to its closed setting with the film staying in the cabin for most the run time, it doesn't reach any kind of interesting heights.
The film needed a kick in the third act but plays out very paint-by-numbers and like clockwork, which is not a super negative as it's still an enjoyable watch but this keeps it for being a great film and falls more into a generic territory. The film also feels the need to add in flashbacks to the couple's life before arriving at cabin and they don't add much that we don't already understand about them. It's something that the film could have done without and also helped make this a tighter package.
'Knock at the Cabin' may not be what we have come to expect from Shyamalan's previous films that it never goes above that grand question but it's still a serviceable horror flick, and once things get going you end up waiting for the next step but not hooked. The performances prevent this from being a completely "wait for streaming" watch, and if you're looking for something romantic but scary this love season 'Knock at the Cabin' could be the perfect fit.
I went through this whole review without one 'Glee' joke and I like to commend myself on that (If I was married to Jesse St. James this would have been a much shorter movie).