Knock At The Cabin delivers M Night Shyamalan’s most unexpected twist yet.

Knock knock!

Who’s there?

Dave…

Dave who?

Dave Bautista in his most beefily earnest role yet as M Night Shyamalan stages a remarkable return to form with KNOCK AT THE CABIN. After the disappointment of OLD, he suddenly feels new again.

When four strangers turn up at the vacation cabin of Andrew (Ben Aldridge), Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Wen (Kristen Cui) they present a startling ultimatum to the holidaying family: they must choose one of their number to die, or the rest of humanity will perish.

SPOILERS FROM HEREON OUT

KNOCK AT THE CABIN benefits from its oddly eclectic cast pretty much firing on all cylinders. Where Dave Bautista is, in all seriousness, fantastic as Leonard, the defacto leader of the group of visitors, affecting a marvellously nuanced performance full of compassion, menace and ambiguity, Rupert Grint is a revelation in his small but pivotal role as Redmond, delivering a career-to-date best performance. Shyamalan keeps things clipping along at an efficient and effective rate, steering a careful and deliberately non-committal course and keeping the audience guessing as to the true nature of what’s really going on. Are the visitors telling the truth about the unfolding apocalypse or is it all an elaborately planned home invasion complete with slick multimedia support to sustain the story while Leonard, Redmond, Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Adriane (Abby Quinn) pursue some delusional cult agenda, as Andrew suspects?

As Keyser Söze once said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” and in KNOCK AT THE CABIN, Shyamalan plays a very similar trick. He not only embraces his reputation as a filmmaker who’s arguably a little too fond of working in a TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED-style twist at the end of his work, but here he uses it to lure you in, gleefully encouraging you to try and figure out what the twist will be. In the end, though, the subversion, potentially his cleverest since THE SIXTH SENSE, is not a narrative one: it’s a near meta-textual one as the audience learns that there is no twist and everything that’s unfolding is exactly as it’s been described on screen. Every character has been telling the whole truth the whole time. It’s a wonderfully Puckish conceit that adds energy to the effective but stagily static story and inoculates the film against the impact of its somewhat rushed denouement where a reflection on the events we’ve witnessed, their metaphysical implications and their cyclical, possibly timeless, nature is raised and discarded almost as an afterthought.

Despite its failure to explore the wider implications of its central idea, though, KNOCK AT THE CABIN still delivers an effective and thought-provoking horror-tinged morality play that makes a virtue of its lack of unexpected twists and turns.

Knock At The Cabin Review
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