Knock at the Cabin Review | A Well-Crafted Thriller With an Over-Simplistic Conclusion

There is a layer of metaphors and philosophy attached to the way M Night Shyamalan has constructed his new movie Knock at the Cabin. What keeps you occupied in this movie, however, is the basic curiosity to know whether the threat of an apocalypse is real or not. Even though Shyamalan succeeds in the initial parts of the film in keeping us glued to the screens by maintaining a certain layer of mystery, the final act of the movie, which clarifies everything for the viewer somewhere, loses that much-needed emotionally overwhelming feel.

Eric, Andrew, and their adopted daughter Wen are the central characters of this film. While vacationing with her parents in a house near a lake, Wen meets this stranger whose demands freak her out. The stranger, named Leonard, comes to the house of this family with three other people, and this group tells the family that they will have to make a sacrifice for the world to survive. The efforts of the group to convince Eric and Andrew and how the family resists their manipulation is what you see in Knock at the Cabin.

When the emotion you generate in the audience from the beginning of the movie is a mystery, the movie should end with details that will at least help them connect the dots while they are going back home. For almost 3/4th of the film, Shyamalan and his writers put the audience in a figuring-out space where the protagonists are reluctant to believe reality. But other than the allegorical explanation of why this couple was chosen to be the decision makers of the fate of humanity, there is hardly anything there to give us a shock about the events happening in the world in that film.

One of the reasons why I admire the movie Arrival is because of the way it achieved grandeur in a minimalist form. A similar possibility was definitely there in Knock at the Cabin, as a major chunk of the movie is set in this wooden vacation home in the middle of nowhere. And M Night Shyamalan uses his craft exceptionally to build the tension. There is a rhythm to the way he composes fear through frames. The zooming that transitions into intimidating levels of closeness is achieved through cuts, and he uses it as a pattern in the first half when we are getting introduced to the premise.

Seeing big dudes playing slightly vulnerable characters is always a pleasure. And it was nice to see someone like Dave Bautista pulling off such a character convincingly. Ben Aldridge, as Andrew, has the most demanding character in the whole film as Andrew’s emotional and physical transition is very eventful, and he performed the role brilliantly. Jonathan Groff was able to give some depth to the concussive state of mind of Eric. The 8-year-old Kristen Cui, as Wen, is both adorable and mature. Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint are the other major names with relatively less screen time.

The genre blend nature of the movie definitely holds your attention in the case of Knock at the Cabin. Starting off as a home invasion film and gradually evolving into an apocalyptic thriller, Shyamalan and his writers manage to give the movie a layer of inclusivity too. As I already said, the lack of clarity on why such a suspenseful narrative was required and the over-simplistic conclusion somewhere reduce the appeal of this single-location thriller.

Final Thoughts

The lack of clarity on why such a suspenseful narrative was required and the over-simplistic conclusion somewhere reduce the appeal of this single-location thriller.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.