I always look forward to a new film from M Night Shyamalan, so it was with eager anticipation that I approached this, his latest which arrived on streaming service surprisingly fast after its theatrical release less than 3 weeks ago. So much the better for us fans since the movie has been banned from the local cinema circuits just because the core of the plot featured a same sex couple. Our Malaysian censorship board is unfortunately still highly homophobic. At this rate, lots of movies from Hollywood will be banned from the cinemas although they will eventually be openly available on streaming services. Anyway, I’m getting off track here. My fascination with M Night Shyamalan films stems from the unique way they are shot and the unusual storylines. To be sure, it sometimes works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it falls somewhere in the middle. Knock At The Cabin falls “somewhere in between”. In other words, the “it could have worked better” category.
This time, the story focuses on just seven characters who are trapped in a cabin under unusual circumstances for a day. A vacationing family consisting of a young girl and her same sex parents is confronted by a group of four armed visitors to their isolated cabin in the middle of the woods. They are forced to make an impossible choice in order to avoid Armageddon, as explained by the four strangers. T he entire premise is difficult for both the family and the viewers to accept but the script was punchy enough to keep things afloat and interesting. Overall, the performances were good, but Dave Bautista stood out. With his contrasting persona of a physically threatening man who can also display an unusual level of tenderness and empathy, he demonstrates remarkable acting ability. Dave Bautista is proving that he is more than just another Rock or Schwarzenegger. I look forward to see him in different roles in the future.
One of the factors that may have contributed to my less than enthusiastic reaction to this was the lack of the typical M Night Shyamalan twist ending. This is probably attributed to the film being based on a story written by somebody else, in this case, Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World”. I also felt that the antagonists’ deliberately vague explanations at the beginning slowed the movie’s progress and even became repetitive without providing more output. On the plus side, M Night Shyamalan’s signature directorial style is very much present, with creative angles, quirky dialogue, and unique characters.
His style is sometimes reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, even down to the type of music used on the soundtrack. He also cleverly kept much of the gore and actual act of violence out of camera range, which can often have an even more profound effect.
The thing about M Night Shyamalan films is that if you don’t buy into the often bizarre stories and aren’t willing to go along for the ride, chances are you won’t enjoy any of them and should avoid them. Knock At The Cabin is typical Shyamalan fare, and despite its flaws, I enjoyed it. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for me to keep my faith in Shyamalan.