Knock At The Cabin – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 40 minutes, Director – M. Night Shyamalan

A family (Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui) find themselves held hostage in a holiday cabin, with four strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint) telling them that they must choose one to kill to stop the apocalypse.

With his last couple of films M. Night Shyamalan has made some films with undoubtedly interesting ideas. They start off rather well, however over time somewhat become lost within themselves, focusing on concept over narrative and while there’s a decent film overall it’s not quite been anything great. Knock At The Cabin is another case of this, although perhaps the best of recent features such as Old and Glass.

The film starts off with a highly suspenseful nature as fathers Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) find themselves tied up and held captive in their rented holiday cabin by four strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint). Alongside adopted daughter Wen (a standout performance from child actor Kristen Cui) they’re told by the home-invaders that they must choose to kill one member of their family to avert the apocalypse, however the family must make the sacrifice themselves. There’s an almost instant eeriness which lingers and adds to the overall tense nature that the opening stages have. Before we even know why these strangers are here and want to be let in Bautista nails the man-with-a-reluctant-mission role when lightly talking to Cui outside the cabin, alone.

The tension is consistent throughout much of this build-up, and indeed the first act as a whole. Where it begins to dip is as we cutaway to Eric and Andrew’s past. While such moments are very brief you do sometimes question their inclusion, largely due to the fact that they break up the pace somewhat and once back in the cabin things don’t quite go back to the same level as before. It’s almost as if the film settles into itself and begins to move along from there. It’s still good and watchable and there are some interesting ideas, but it lacks the same punch and style as was there at the start. Eventually settling more into this feeling with each new flashback.

There’s certainly a fair deal of development and bursts of action here and there as the couple try to reason with those who claim visions have brought them on this mission to this highly remote location yet as the stakes appear to rise the less the film seems to ask. Generally it keeps the same question – is what these people are saying true? – and while there’s nothing bad about this it never quite expands upon it or dives into it apart from, again, in various bursts that we see through news broadcasts on the TV. The different responses from the pair – particularly Aldridge – create some interest and further help to keep you engaged in the way that things eventually pan out, especially when more movement is involved, but again it ends up feeling settled within itself and focusing more on the themes and ideas than the narrative as a whole.

The film is stopped from rising as much as it could, and having the effect that it once had and could have continued to have. There may still be interest to be found within what is there, especially when things feel as if they truly move and start to develop and change up a bit. But overall it feels too settled within itself to properly run with this feeling and allow for the strong levels of eeriness and suspense felt in the opening stages of the film to run throughout. You’re able to watch the film fine, and it still works and moves along fairly well, you just wish that it did it with a bit more push.

While it starts off with plenty of suspense Knock At The Cabin eventually settles into itself and with each cutaway or flashback it seems to loose itself within its ideas instead of the developing narrative making for something watchable but less involving.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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