‘Knock at the Cabin’ Could Be Peak M. Night Shyamalan
When the inevitable M. Night Shyamalan retrospective is finally released, it will be a tale of two halves. On one hand, the fabled director is a master of his craft, responsible for some of the most memorable film releases in modern cinema. On the other, he’s dished up some serious stinkers, but in recent years, Shyamalan has managed to move the needle firmly towards the former. His new flick Knock at the Cabin is a great example of why.
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Starring Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista, Mindhunter’s Jonathan Groff and even Ron Weasley himself, Rupert Grint, the latest effort has the acting prestige to turn heads, but it’s the genre that has us excited. In a welcome return that follows his recent work with Old, the polarising filmmaker is heading back to the thriller-horror genre.
This time around, Knock at the Cabin sees a young family who, while vacationing at a remote cabin, are set upon by four armed strangers. Taking the innocent family hostage, the captors demand that the family make an “unthinkable choice” to avert the apocalypse. With limited access to the outside world, the family must decide what they believe before all is lost.
If that sounds a little ambitious, you’re probably not wrong, but it’s surprisingly at home in Shymalan’s wheelhouse. The director’s best work comes when he walks the line between belief systems and the tortured personalities forced to confront them. In 2002’s Signs, the director was able to wrangle a stunning performance from Mel Gibson, who played a widowed pastor grappling with a loss of faith, all while a supposedly alien invasion played out. The complexity of the plot, along with Gibson’s touching performance was matched only by the director’s ability to capture an overwhelming sense of dread.
Judging by the first trailer, Knock at the Cabin could be Shyamalan back at his all-encompassing best, and that’s good for film. When he’s on, Shyamalan is still one of Hollywood’s great storytellers, but when he’s not, you end up with The Village. Figuring out where Knock at the Cabin sits is a hard one to pinpoint, but it’s somewhat interesting to see him work from a different source material. Where the filmmaker has regularly written his own original works, this time around, Shyamalan has tapped an iconic piece of prose.
As the name suggests, the new film is loosely based on Paul Tremblay’s national best-seller The Cabin at the End of the World, so there’s less of a chance the new flick will lose its way. Then again, he also wrote Stuart Little so who knows where this guy is going.