Synopsis: While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Rupert Grint
M. Night Shyamalan is a name synonymous with creative filmmaking and twist endings. In any movie trailer or film that bares his name, you can expect the unexpected. His movies are discussed more for the story than the actors that fill the screen.
Sure, Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment were wonderful in The Sixth Sense, but it was the story and the ending that left audiences gasping. M. Night is on a shallow list of directors who can outshine their films. Others on that list that come to mind are Quentin Tarantino and Jordan Peele.
The latest submission to his canon, Knock at the Cabin, is based on the book, The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay.
The film opens with Wen (Kristen Cui), a young girl, catching grasshoppers outside the cottage she and her two dads have rented. A stranger approaches her and introduces himself as Leonard (Dave Bautista), and he immediately establishes himself as a gentle giant. While his massive frame can’t be mistaken, his soft-spoken nature puts Wen at ease.
After a short discussion, he tells Wen that her family will have to make a difficult choice — slow down Leonard; she just wants to get some grasshoppers.
Wen runs into the cottage and informs her dads, Eric (Hamilton’s Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) that there are four strange people outside the cottage. Before long, Leonard and the three people accompanying him, Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Redmond (Rupert Grint), and Ardiane (Abby Quinn), are making their way into the cottage, sans invitation.
This isn’t your average ‘home invasion’ story. The four intruders are trying to prevent the apocalypse, which can only be done if our vacationing family decides to sacrifice one of themselves.
Dave Bautista needs to be commended for his transition from a WWE superstar to actor. While he was entertaining in the Marvel films and can do comedy, as proven in movies like My Spy and Stuber, he does a very good job dramatically here in one of the lead roles. His performance may go unnoticed in the overall scheme of things, as they tend to do in M. Night Shyamalan films, but it’s still impressive.
Films that carry the name M. Night are either a hit or a miss. The Sixth Sense was a global phenomenon, and Unbreakable is one of the best comic book movies ever, but he has also had films like The Happening and Lady in the Water that, in comparison, just aren’t very good. This film is on the miss side.
Multiple holes leave the audience scratching their head, trying to figure things out. There is a commentary on sacrifice and social commentary on homophobia, but the overall message M. Night is trying to convey is blurry.
I suspect one of the challenges of the film is that the source material didn’t come from his mind, but a book and books are usually better than the film.
Nothing is drastically wrong with this film, but I wouldn’t rush to the theatre to see it.
If you’re looking for a great M. Night Shyamalan movie, I recommend the aforementioned films and The Visit.
His last few films have been ok at best. Like Stella, I hope he gets his groove back.