Knock At The Cabin Review
M. Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who excites me. Not because I think he makes great movies, but because he’s completely unpredictable in terms of the genre, tone and quality of his films. He’s made more flops than hits, but he’s a unique storyteller, and once in a while he delivers a winner. Knock at the Cabin isn’t one of them, but it comes close.
The concept is relatively straightforward, especially for a Shyamalan movie. The absence of any game-changing twists is somewhat refreshing, but the conclusion lacks the wild unpredictability the director is known for. I kept waiting for the rug to be pulled from beneath my feet, but it never happened. However, Shyamalan does make excellent use of the film’s single location, with plenty of canted angles, close ups and shallow depth of field that give a constant sense of unease.
There’s a genuinely exciting thriller in here, but it’s diluted by some odd story beats and a lot of contrived tension. Despite a relatively lean runtime of just 100 minutes, the film can’t help but feel needlessly drawn out. Even though it’s based on a full length novel, this adaptation plays like a short story stretched to feature length. There are a handful of flashbacks throughout that add a bit of subtext, but otherwise feel like padding and add little to the overall experience.
The performances are solid across the board - sometimes a tad melodramatic but never enough to detract from the emotional state of the characters. Dave Bautista brings a presence to his role that’s both calm and quietly menacing. He proves once again that he’s a versatile actor capable of carrying a movie, as he does here. Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge share strong chemistry, and their characters’ contrasting personalities make for a compelling dynamic. Dialogue continues to be Shyamalan’s Achilles heel, but the performances help mask the clunky writing.
Knock at the Cabin lacks the bold twists we’ve come to expect from Shyamalan, but it’s an intriguing addition to his rollercoaster of a filmography. It doesn’t touch the brilliance of The Sixth Sense, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett