“Knock at the Cabin,” the new mystery horror film from director M. Night Shyamalan, is in movie theaters now. Shyamalan’s adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World” was released on Feb. 3, 2023, and stars Dave Bautista as Leonard, Jonathan Groff as Eric and Rupert Grint as Redmond. The film tells the story of a little girl and her dads who are held captive by four strangers and told they must make a choice to stop the apocalypse from happening. They are told that one of them must die or the world will end.
From the very first scene, I was hooked. The young daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui) is incredibly loveable and easy to root for. Her interactions at the beginning of the movie with Leonard perfectly set up the characters and the audience’s relationship with them. Both of these characters like each other and are likable to the audience, but in the context of the film, Leonard is an antagonist while Wen is the protagonist. I found this dynamic to be very interesting and it kept me intrigued throughout the film.
Something I liked about the film was how it handled the relationship between Wen’s parents, Eric and Andrew (Ben Aldridge). Unfortunately, it is still rare to see a same-sex couple with a child in a movie (especially in a mystery horror film intended for a wide audience) where they are treated just like any other couple struggling to save each other and their child. We see that they are a real, loving couple with their own flaws and strengths. The film handles their relationship with grace. My only complaint is that I found their lack of physical affection very odd. Why would a married couple never kiss when their lives are in danger? Why would a married couple never kiss in any situation? I worry that their affection was portrayed less obviously in order to please homophobic audience members, but that is just my suspicion.
Another aspect of the movie I enjoyed was the mystery. You are never quite sure what is true and what is not. At some points, the strangers at the cabin seem like crazy, delusional fanatics who are wrong about an impending apocalypse. At other points, you question if maybe they are right. Both ideas bring their own set of horrors for the family. Overall, the movie does a great job of leaving the audience uncertain until the very end.
This film also had great performances. Bautista really stood out to me as an actor with amazing range and an ability to connect with the audience. The actors that played the other three strangers, Adriane (Abby Quinn), Redmond (Grint) and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) were perfectly cast. I will say, though, that Quinn in particular was prone to overacting at some points. Both Groff and Aldridge were lovely to watch. Lastly, nine-year-old Cui as Wen was both entertaining and impressive, and I hope to see her in more films in the future.
All in all, this film was very fun to see in the theater. Although, I do not think I am that eager for a rewatch any time soon. I think it is the kind of movie that you only have to watch once, as there are not really any “Easter eggs” to look out for. And once you know how it ends, the movie’s added edge of uncertainty is kind of lost. I would still recommend this movie to anyone looking for something new and exciting to watch on the weekend.