Knock at the Cabin review: high concept, low returns

Knock at the Cabin

Review by Safiyyah Choudry

Watching “Knock at the Cabin” is like counting sheep, except never falling asleep. Despite the high expectations set by the novel “The Cabin at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay, M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of the mystery-horror is unfortunately devoid of any mystery or horror.

The movie has an intriguing beginning sequence and a high-concept premise, but it swiftly devolves into what can only be called total nonsense. The decline into an insipid muddle unravels quickly, with little hope left for redemption after the first 30 minutes. 

The so-called apocalyptic nightmare is a complete farce with an over-the-top and insignificant twist that is both overblown and negligible. The plot is badly executed; it lacks imagination, has no genuine thrill, and it’s frustrating. The characters’ motivations are weakly developed, and this leaves viewers feeling completely underwhelmed.

Despite the lacklustre plot, there is a glimmer of hope in the opening scene, where Dave Bautista and newcomer Kristen Cui deliver an optimistic dialogue. Cui plays Wen, an eight-year-old girl who befriends Bautista’s character, Leonard, a sinister man she saw lurking in the idyllic woodland behind the cabin. Soon Leonard is joined by three friends carrying bizarre weapons, who then take Wen and her family prisoner in their own cabin. They attempt to persuade them to make a difficult choice to prevent a disaster. The cultish fanaticism of Leonard and his friends is both terrifying and persuasive, leaving the audience on edge, wondering who to trust.

Apart from this auspicious beginning, the plot falls short. The conclusion of the movie is inadequate, leaving countless unanswered questions. The juxtaposition of rational and irrational explanations feels predictable, and the finale is completely absurd.

The major reveal is oddly underwhelming and devoid of any originality and excitement. The characters are still underdeveloped by the time it gets to the end and with sketchy motivations. This makes it difficult to invest in their plight.

Shyamalan’s previous film, “Old”, was like a delicious three-course meal, cooked to perfection and leaving viewers content and satisfied. However, “Knock at the Cabin” is like a meal that has no ending; it starts off strong with a promising appetiser, but the main and dessert courses never arrive, leaving viewers hungry and disappointed. Despite the encouraging start, the film falls short of expectations and is easily forgettable. In other words, it’s a hundred minutes of utter garbage and regret.

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