- Film & TV
- 03 Feb 23
Roe McDermott takes us through the five crucial elements that make M. Night Shyamalan’s highly anticipated new film a must-watch...
In M. Night Shyamalan’s new film Knock At The Cabin, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are a couple who take their adorable daughter Wen to a lakeside cabin for a holiday. But the loving, happy family are not long into their vacation when four intruders arrive at their door with a horrifying proclamation. Leonard (Dave Bautista), Adriane (Abby Quinn), Sabrina (Nikkie Amuka-Bird) and Redmond (Rupert Grint) all claim that they have seen a vision of destruction that will lead to the apocalypse, and the only way to stop the end of the world is a willing sacrifice from Eric, Andrew, or Wen.
If that intriguing premise doesn’t already have you booking a cinema ticket, here are some more reasons to see Knock At The Cabin.
M. Night Shyamalan has often played with ideas of faith in his films, such as in Signs and The Village; the destruction of the world as explored in The Happening; and human beings’ desire to avoid difficult, core-shaking truths such as in The Sixth Sense. Knock At The Cabin plays with all of these ideas and dives in deep to its dissection of faith. The film plays with specifically Biblical references such as Abraham grappling with the choice to sacrifice his son Isaac, and the four intruders can be seen as messengers of doom. But the film also touches on the idea of conspiracy theories and the stubbornness of belief in the face of mounting evidence, which feels particularly relevant for a society coming out of Covid.
As the title suggests, this film takes place almost entirely in a remote cabin deep in the woods, where there is no cell signal. This isolated setting plays an important role in the plot as the core family have nowhere to run and no way of calling for help, but the setting also serves to heighten the sense of claustrophobia, tension and to play with the characters’ sense of reality; without being able to see the outside world, how do they know if the apocalyptic disasters that have been foreseen are actually coming to pass?
When the four visitors arrive, the film rarely leaves the living room of the cabin, which plays into Shyamalan’s skills as a director. Shyamalan has been a master of creating tension through spatial limitations, knowing how to play with confined locations to maximise fear. The Village played with the idea of a small, isolated community; Signs showed us an alien invasion from a rural home; The Sixth Sense saw Cole hiding in a tiny red tent whenever he was terrified, and Split saw Anya Taylor-Joy try to survive while trapped in an underground facility. Shyamalan always plays with restricted locations, and the use of one location and a small cast make Knock At The Cabin feel taut and tense.
In many ways, Knock At The Cabin is one of Shyamalan’s more restrained films, but the dilemma at the centre will stay with you long after the credits role. The moral dilemma of whether or not to make a sacrifice that could either be a horrific mistake or could save the world works not just because of the stakes, but because of the characters facing down this choice.
Jonathan Groff plays sweet, idealistic Eric, who has his own relationship with faith and has a deep sense of hope and connection to the world. Meanwhile, his husband Andrew is a human rights lawyer who has dedicated his life to making the world better – but through his work has also seen the horrors humanity inflicts on each other every day. In his own life, Andrew has also experienced cruelty and homophobia, and so is deeply suspicious of new people – particularly these intruders threatening his husband and daughter.
As these two very different personalities try to grapple with the choice being forced upon them, their struggle becomes even more interesting, and will leave you wondering what you would do in their shoes, and what values and beliefs would influence your decision.
Professional wrestler and world champion heavyweight Dave Bautista began acting in 2006 – and although many wrestlers who begin acting never escape the confines of their wrestling persona, Bautista has been impressing with his ability to not only play a hardman, but to convey a vulnerability and humour that often contrasts with his intimidating physique.
Bautista has won over audiences with roles in Spectre, Riddick and Dune, but it’s his role as Drax The Destroyer in Guardians Of The Galaxy that made him beloved amongst worldwide audiences. But his role in Knock At The Cabin is one of his most nuanced, accomplished performances. Bautista plays Leonard, a tank of a man who wears dorky spectacles and loves the school kids whose sports teams he coaches. He’s soft-spoken, empathetic, polite – and seems utterly devastated to be presenting a loving family with a horrific choice. Bautista’s vulnerability adds an intriguing layer to Leonard – a man who may be a saviour, or a delusional murderer. It’s a performance to remember.
Knock At The Cabin is based on The Cabin at the End of the World, a horror novel by American writer Paul Tremblay. The novel won the Bram Stoker Award in 2019 and was widely acclaimed, with horror icon Stephen King describing the book as “thought-provoking and terrifying.” The film adaptation strays somewhat from Tremblay’s novel, which is arguably darker and bleaker than M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation, so if you want an even more unnerving experience, go buy the book after seeing the film!
Knock At The Cabin is in cinemas now.
- Film & TV
- 27 Jan 23