Published Mar. 6, 2023
BY SARA EYJOLFSDOTTIR
Despite a star-studded cast, potentially gripping plot and director known for his stunning cinematography, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” fails to adequately produce a worthwhile experience for its audience.
Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) intended for a relaxing getaway, but are unexpectedly burdened with the unthinkable decision of having to choose between protecting their family or preventing an apocalypse. The reason for such an obscure and relatively simple method of preventing the collapse of the world, barring the obvious tragedy of having to kill a loved one, is left largely unexplained throughout the film.
Starting off with what looks like a modern reinterpretation of 2008 horror film “The Strangers,” “Knock at the Cabin” ends up hinting at a social commentary with the idea of choosing between personal interests and those of humanity as a whole, but never quite crosses into the realm of a thought-provoking experience for the viewers.
The strongest aspect of the film is likely the acting, with cast members such as 9-year-old Cui delivering phenomenal performances and showing the range required for this movie. The four complex antagonists, meant to be ordinary people encumbered with a near impossible task, often display exaggerated and forced kindness toward the family of three that is shockingly transformed into cutthroat homicidal behavior at the drop of a hat.
Rupert Grint, most famous for playing Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter” franchise, puts down his wand to portray a minor character complete with limited screen time, an inconsequential discovery about his true identity and an extremely shaky American accent.
“Knock at the Cabin” received a tame R rating with minimal gore that is likely not the aspect of the film that will stick with the viewer the most. Instead, Shyamalan plays much more on emotion and symbolic deaths with beautiful cinematography than on gut-wrenching butchery to connect with his audience.
Whether Shyamalan means for the outcome of the plot to be anticipated by his audience from an early point in the film, not-so-subtle hints are dropped throughout the movie indicating its outcome, ranging anywhere from the composition of certain shots to the precise language of pieces of dialogue. Instead, the rather obvious outcome could have been substituted by a twist that goes beyond Grint’s fruitless forgotten character backstory in order to avoid the monotonous, unsurprising feel the film adopts about an hour in.
If there is one thing this movie does manage to accomplish, it’s that you’ll never want to stay in a cabin in the woods again.