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Knock at the Cabin

MOVIE | M. Night Shyamalan’s apocalyptic thriller is a thought experiment that falls flat

Universal Studios

<em>Knock at the Cabin</em>
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➤ Rated R
➤ Theaters
➤ S0 / V6 / L6 *

Is sacrificing one life worth saving billions? What if that one life was from your family? That’s the question behind M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film Knock at the Cabin, an adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s bleak novel The Cabin at the End of the World.

Homosexual couple Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are vacationing at a cabin in the woods with their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui). A huge, tattooed man named Leonard (Dave Bautista) shows up with three other strangers, and they explain that Eric and Andrew must sacrifice one of their own or the world will end.

The men don’t believe these four horsemen of the apocalypse, and all manner of natural disasters take place until they choose.

In some ways the movie is classic Shyamalan, with dramatic cinematography and a relatively claustrophobic set. The dialogue is shot in closeups, and the actors appear to talk to us rather than each other. But this time, the Shyamalan twist is there is no twist, and we never get the reason behind this Devil’s bargain.

Ultimately, the movie fails at turning a thought experiment into a script, and Shyamalan gets a shred of narrative tension only because the couple is homosexual. Imagine the same setup with a father, mother, and daughter. There wouldn’t be much suspense because we would all know the husband would die for his wife and child. If the director were to turn the man into a coward and kill the woman, the audience would rebel.

Shyamalan offers some hackneyed thoughts on whether humanity is worth saving, but the end contains no surprises, and Shyamalan flinches from the ­devastating emptiness of the book’s conclusion.

*Ratings from kids-in-mind.com, with quantity of sexual (S), violent (V), and foul-language (L) content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high

Collin Garbarino

Collin is WORLD’s arts and culture editor. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University and resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas.



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