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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Review: Knock at the Cabin

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan

Year: 2023

M. Night Shyamalan is a name that always generates high expectations in horror movies. His inconsistent career behind the scenes has given us genre gems like "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs," as well as less-well-received ones like "The Happening." This time, it is not only the popularity and career of M. Night Shyamalan that raised expectations but knowing that the script is based on the book "The Cabin at the End of the World", written by Paul Tremblay, an author who has gained a large following in horror literature, served to make "Knock at the Cabin" one of the most anticipated horror movies of 2023.

In “Knock at the Cabin”, a couple and their daughter are going to spend a few days on vacation in a cabin in the woods. While the family is there, they are visited by four strangers, who break into their cabin, assuring them that they are there to stop what would mean the end of humanity. However, to stop the end of humanity, the family must sacrifice one of its members.

I have written many times about the importance of the opening scene in many movies, and “Knock at the Cabin” is one of the examples of how efficiently the viewer can be put into context if this scene is used well. In this scene, we mainly meet Wen, the couple's daughter, and Leonard, the group leader, and the contrast between them couldn't be more evident. Leonard, played by ex-professional wrestler Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), who is a tall and muscular man, while Wen is nothing more than a little girl of around 10 years of age. However, Leonard comes off as a gentle and kind man, but he can't help but project himself as a threat.

Aside from what is clearly meant to be shown on camera in this scene, Dave Bautista does an excellent job of bringing both perspectives into his performance. We are more used to seeing him in simpler roles, but this time I take the opportunity to showcase his acting chops. The rest of the cast also does a good job. However, it is Bautista who manages to stand out.

Where “Knock at the Cabin” feels like it falls short of expectations is in its lack of forcefulness. And to be more specific, the movie feels limited in many parts by the lack of more explicit visuals, especially when loaded with an R rating. Also, at times, the pace feels a bit rushed, probably to create a sense of urgency in the viewer.

"Knock at the Cabin" will not appear on the podium of the best films of M. Night Shyamalan, but this does not mean that it is not a great film. His greatest strength is knowing how to keep the viewer wondering if the group that breaks into the cabin is telling the truth and what the outcome will be. However, the film does not have the characteristics that distinguish a film from this acclaimed director. It is up to the viewer whether this is better or worse.

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