Knock at the Cabin (2023)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In 1999 M. Night Shyamalan shook the world with his movie The Sixth Sense. Nor did the studios expect the then-young director’s film to perform the way it did in theaters. Revenues exceeded 600 million dollars and, in the VHS, and DVD rental market, it was requested by more than 80 million people. The psychological horror-thriller drama thrust the director into the spotlight and enshrined him in almost immediate cult status.

Shyamalan has remained true to his style and his career has swung between ups and downs with projects that have come close to the quality of The Sixth Sense but can hardly be said to surpass it. Knock at the Cabin (2022) is his most recent proposal, and we can find all those elements that have made Shyamalan a registered trademark. This is only the second film by the director to receive an R rating for graphic violence.

A determining element of Shyamalan’s cinema is the impact of his stories on first viewing. The twists and changes in the pace of his movies become determining elements for the effectiveness of his films. When we approach his movies a second time, the surprise factor is gone, and this can sometimes be a massive ballast for the story to maintain interest and validity.

The Cabin at the End of the World

In Knock at the Cabin, we have a girl who is vacationing in a secluded cabin in the woods with her parents when four strangers appear at her door with an insane demand that demands a sacrifice from them to avoid the end of the world. The strangers, led by Leonard (Dave Bautista) go to the point of using physical violence to make their point. Anything we add here would end up ruining the entire experience of the film and that’s more of a weakness than a strength of the script by Steve Desmond, Michael Sherman, and Shyamalan. The plot material is based on Paul Tremblay’s book, The Cabin at the End of the World.

The initial minutes prove to be very effective and up to the point where the moral dilemma of individual sacrifice to avoid global evil is raised, things work well. The elements are perfectly combined, photography, editing, and music harmonize and create the perfect atmosphere to plunge into the suspense that the director wants. Within the narrative, more complex issues such as same-sex couples, religion, and the use of violence as a resource to impose ideological positions are developed. Where the script spends the most time is in confronting the audience with the dilemma of Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), on their shoulders rests the fate of humanity.

Knock at the Cabin is effective in introducing the theme and establishing the central conflict, but it loses strength as the minutes go by and necessarily requires the effectiveness of stereotyped situations in films of the genre. The effect desired by Shyamalan depends entirely on the visual force of the staging and the ideological discourse is diluted.

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