Film Reviews

“Oh Shyamalan, Where Art Thou?”- Film Review: Knock At The Cabin

Will Stead

Knock at the Cabin arrived in cinemas on 3rd February 2023. Impact‘s Will Stead watched the film, and reviews.

The new M. Night movie is out everyone! Gather round, all ye from far and wide! M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, Knock at the Cabin, is based on the book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, however it makes significant changes to the story, to justify the movie more so being ‘inspired’ by the book, as opposed to an adaption. 

The premise is simple: a family go on holiday to a cabin in the woods, and whilst holidaying about, a group of 4 strangers arrive and inform them that they face a deadly choice- they must kill one member of the family, or the world will end. It’s an intriguing premise, and the film mostly delivers on fulfilling it.

The film is well acted, well lit, well designed, and for the most part well executed. In fact, its Dave Bautista’s leading position in the film that elevates it from slogdom. He plays the role of Leonard, the leader of the 4 strangers, and a primary school teacher. It is perhaps the juxtaposition of such a giant man playing such a friendly soul that adds to the mystery of the plot, and keeps the viewer on edge.

The mystery becomes boring as the answer becomes obvious

Unfortunately, this mystery is toyed with to the point of frustration throughout. The first act of the film hooks the audience on the guessing game, trying to decipher the honest of the antagonist strangers, but as the film continues, the mystery becomes boring as the answer becomes obvious. A good mystery story needs a moment of legitimate doubt. The audience needs to be herded one way, and then contradictory evidence needs to be given in order for any ending to be satisfying. Unfortunately, after the first hour, the film becomes stifled by its obvious outcome, yet still continues the charade that maybe it will pull a twist.

M. Night gives up on any obligations to the story

This brings me onto what I believe to be the main issue, the director, M. Night Shyamalan. This film doesn’t fit into his usual repertoire of twists and turns; it is neither an incredible vision such as Unbreakable, nor is it as hilariously disastrous as Old. At least in M. Night’s worst films, he is still trying. With Knock at the Cabin, M. Night gives up on any obligations to the story. The twists and turns don’t derive from the screenplay or cinematography, but instead heavily rely on the fact that the audience is expecting a twist. His reputation is the motivating force to logicize the twists, not the story itself.

To be quite frank I think the only element M. Night was concerned with was making unique shots. Certainly, the film has an interesting look. But (and it’s a big but) its all unmotivated. Dolly zooms, Dutch angles, crossing the axis of action are all unmotivated, used only because they look ‘cool’, and not to help further the story.

It is a dire shame that this film turned out so badly; I am a big supporter of the director. I admire his passion for film making, the fact he pays everything out of his own pocket clearly shows this. But this movie was forty minutes too long. It would’ve worked better as part of an anthology movie such as Creepshow.

To conclude, this movie is prime “nothing else to watch”. Wait for it to be out on streaming, and stick it on while you doing some menial tasks like ironing the dog or walking your shirts. Its neither gripping nor laughably bad. Do better M. Night, or worse, either way give me something next time that I can sink my teeth into, rather than some quasi-religious-spiritual boredom.

Will Stead

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @knockatthecabin via No changes were made to these images.

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