Time for Shyamalan Roulette! The game where we collectively spin the wheel and get a 20% chance of a whammy. Or maybe higher, depending on your tastes. For me, though, I’ve enjoyed more of his movies than I’ve disliked, so I still give him the benefit of the doubt. Surely, he wouldn’t make another movie like The Happening, right?
I am pleased to inform you that, no, he did not in fact make another moving like The Happening. Knock at the Cabin is far superior to that, and easily in the top half of M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography. It evokes the claustrophobic, small, quiet, and intimate character work of his early career with films like Signs and Unbreakable. Though Knock at the Cabin isn’t quite as good as either of those gems, it’s still a thought-provoking, tense time.
First off, some housekeeping. This movie is rated R, but I’m not sure why. It’s not very gory, doesn’t have much swearing, has nothing even resembling nudity, and frankly, isn’t very scary. Heck, the protagonists are a gay couple that we never even see kiss each other, though that doesn’t detract from the very strong relationship between the two. I mean, come on, we’re still reeling from Bill and Frank, and now this?!
It’s hard to talk too much about a Shyamalan movie, because if there’s one thing we all know about his movies, it’s that we don’t spoil them. This one doesn’t have any earth-shattering twists, but there is enough intrigue, left turns, and mysteries that I don’t want to give any of that away here. I will only say that premise is interesting and more reminiscent of good Sci-Fi than horror. It’s based on a book, so Shyamalan can’t take all the credit for the story. I have not read the book.
Here’s what I loved about this movie that I will tell you: It’s beautifully made, and wonderfully deliberate. Every line matters. Every scene counts. Every framed shot serves the story. There is no filler. If it’s on the screen, you best be paying attention because it’s important for either character or plot development.
And the characters is where this movie really shines. Bautista does a great job. Rupert Grint, though a smaller role, is also wonderful. The whole cast, really. They sell all this end-of-the-world mumbo jumbo so well that you may not even know what to believe from time to time. You end up caring about them all, no matter what their motives, and that makes every turning point of the plot impactful.
Overall, I adored this movie. It’s not perfect, and it’s not Shyamalan’s best, but it’s enough to keep him on my good side… for now.
Should you watch it? If the premise interests you, or if you like Shyamalan’s work, then yes.
Should you take your kids? Older teens would probably enjoy it. It’s a lot closer to PG-13 than R in my opinion.
What you should watch first: Nothing–Yay for standalone movies!