Knock at the Cabin (2023) Movie Review – Shyamalan’s thriller is ambiguously mediocre

Shyamalan’s thriller is ambiguously mediocre

M Night Shyamalan is a man who can produce an equal number of hits as he does misses. Split and Sixth Sense hold firm as definitive hits, while The Happening and After Earth are definite stinkers. Knock at the Cabin then is neither a hit nor a stinker. Instead, this operates somewhere in that frustrating grey area of mediocrity, with as many positives as negatives.

The premise is super simple and sticks to the sort of home invasion thrillers we’ve seen a number of times before but with a slight twist in true Shyamalan fashion. The film opens and we’re immediately introduced to a cute girl out collecting grasshoppers called Wen. She’s on vacation with her Dads, Eric and Andrew.

When Wen is approached by Leonard, an imposing mountain of muscle, he promises to be her friend but needs to be let into her cabin with his friends, who come armed with intimidating weapons. It soon becomes apparent that this isn’t a simple invasion though (nor as these Jehovah Witnesses as Andrew and Eric comically suggest).

Leonard informs the family that they need to make an impossible choice to prevent the apocalypse from wiping out all life on this planet. Are they telling the truth? Or is this one big, elaborate hoax?

These questions bounce around across the 100 minute run-time, and as the final act draws nearer, this question is answered, albeit with a fair amount of ambiguity and a pretty rushed final act. That ambiguity is actually one of the film’s stronger points, although the pedestrian tone and flatlined characterization hold this back from being a better watch.

The biggest problem here though comes from the characters. There’s barely any growth for the main ensemble, with characters spewing exposition constantly and telling us about their traits rather than showing. Expect plenty of ham-fisted bits of dialogue about feelings and ideas, while we’re told that Andrew and Eric are very much in love…but not so much shown it, despite several revealing flashbacks across the run-time.

At no point does Knock at the Cabin make you feel like the pair are madly, deeply in love with each other as the characters would have you believe. Given we’ve just had HBO’s The Last Of Us deliver an epic love story across its third chapter, this stands out like a sore thumb and it makes the choice these characters have to make lacking the gravitas needed to really feel it.

I’m not about to spoil that here but for anyone who has read the book, the final act has been changed for the big screen but it’s not actually handled particularly well. Because of that lack of aforementioned character growth, everything that occurs just sort of flatlines, shrugs off the plot and then the credits roll.

As a cheesy B-movie thriller, Knock at the Cabin’s not a bad way to kill an hour and a half. It’s likely to spark up debates, especially about its ambiguous ending, which is always a good thing. Bautista’s acting is fantastic and  really helps elevate this one but a frustrating lack of character growth for everyone, not to mention tired character tropes and a rushed finale, hold this back from being a better watch.


Read More: Knock at the Cabin Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 5.5/10

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