Genre: Thriller
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint 
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: R21 (Mature Content)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 16 February 2023

Synopsis: While vacationing at a remote cabin, a young girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed strangers who 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.

Movie Review:

“My heart is broken because of what I have to do today.” – Leonard (Dave Bautista)

It is indecipherable how one would exactly feel when Drax and Ron Weasley turn up at the door and nonchalantly say that the world is going to end before breaking in with two other weapon-wielding captors.

The home-invasion thriller unbolts with Little Wen catching grasshoppers with bare hands and trapping them in a glass jar. And a 275-pound stranger standing at 6’ 4” appears out of nowhere in the woods to have a chat with the clueless child who would turn eight in just a couple of weeks. Their first conversation itself launches the plot in motion, when three other strangers hove into view without any further ado.

Knock at the Cabinis the first adaptation of the 2018 national best-seller, "The Cabin at the End of the World", by Paul G. Tremblay. Rumour has it that M. Night Shyamalan rewrote the book’s ending for a big twist. But is it really the classic twist that the twisty-as-hell director normally loves to plant at the end? Think back to Bruce Willis being dead in The Sixth Sense and the expansive exercise in The Village.

The visitation of the four bearers of doom that symbolises the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are furtively introduced in the opening credits itself with imageries of disturbing scribbles and sketches on what looks like a restaurant’s menu, children's worksheets and a hospital case sheet; except that they come in a truck and not on trotting horses in this chilled thriller. The targeted family that vacations in the titular cabin deep in the woods comprises of two dads, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Wen (Kristen Cui) who is adopted. The narratively straightforward plot that is more stirring and less developing unfolds in this cabin that provides an excellent setting for such creepy hostages to be established.

And the four radical home invaders with visions of apocalyptic destructions are Leonard (Dave Bautista), a second-grade teacher and a softie at heart, Sabrina (Niki Amuka-Bird), a nurse from Southern California, Adriane (Abby Quinn), a line cook at a Mexican restaurant and Redmond (Rupert Grint) who works for a gas company in Massachusetts. Each of them embodies guidance, healing, nurturance and malice respectively. The unlikely interlopers who are then mistaken for a suicide cult pressures the chosen family to make a choice on who gets to be sacrificed. And if they don’t, the blameless family will be permanently and cosmically alone while the rest of the world would have ended by then. After seemingly warming up to their captors, the family of three that is also the epitome of true love, seeks ways to dodge these strangers. The dilemma pivots on who gets killed in order to stop the impending catastrophe with an exception that they can’t kill themselves. Should they reject their captor’s prospect, the unexpected awaits the triad and a plague will be unbridled. The home invasion thriller gets spun into a metaphysical spectacle with an overriding conflict of faith against reasoning and is punctuated by brief flashbacks to Eric and Andrew, that provide some occasional peeks into the backstory.

Knock at the Cabin makes it apparent enough that Shyamalan is fascinated by end-of-the- world themes. Who could forget The Happening and After Earth, which is a sci-fi starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith? Although it's a film that might change the views one may have on apocalypse, interestingly enough, this may not be Shyamalan’s creepiest number of all times. The apocalyptic actioner could easily be dubbed as the saddest of all. The four characters aren't given much scope to expand the narrative. They come, they deliver the message and do exactly what they are ordained to do. Moreover, the unwelcomed foursome isn’t granted enough space to become intense. Shyamalan’s directorial style in this family drama seemed somewhat contained. When it comes to jump scares, from a scale of 0 to 10, the brazenly imaginative film would easily be a six while nestling somewhere next to A Quiet Place.

With incredibly rich and earthy cinematography, the script by Shyamalan that is co-written with Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman creates a convincing shift in the film’s attitude that varies from the book. Also, thanks to the ‘90s lenses used in shooting the film that exudes an old school thriller vibe, thus helping it make less claustrophobic, since the narrative predominantly develops in the rural Pennsylvanian cabin.

The compelling close-up shots of the characters and the choice of words in dialogues, definitely augment the narrative on so many levels. Not to forget the flashback instalments that come by sporadically, throwing in some layers to the story and the harrowing background score that endorses a muscle-tensing mood. And Dave Bautista who is exceptionally memorable as Leonard, gives his character much personality while looking no less than a tatted-up teddy bear hidden within a grizzly physique. Leonard is easily the retired professional wrestler’s most outstanding role by far and he should be given more of such phenomenal roles. It is refreshing to have Rupert Grint step back into the spotlight once again with his ardent and anxious character of Redmond. Anyone who had watched Old (2021), would recall Amuka-Bird playing Patricia in it and she would mention her sister who is also a nurse. And in this film (ta-da), Nurse Sabrina is one of the four interlopers. We see you, Shyamalan. We really do. Although it is a little too early for Easter, we found that one egg in this terrific thriller.

Movie Rating:



(Break into the visionary filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological apocalyptic thriller with a cut-to-the-chase storyline that has decided to dial down on horror elements to be an absolute tear-jerker)

Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas


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