Monday, February 6

Knock at the Cabin Review

Knock at the Cabin

Dir: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn, and Kristen Cui

1h 40m

Isolated cabins in the woods always spell terrible happenings in horror films. For director M. Night Shyamalan, who adapts author Paul Tremblay's thought-provoking and terrifying "Cabin at the End of the World," a cabin plays the centerpiece for a world-defining decision that a family must make to alter the apocalypse. "Knock at the Cabin" strips down the thought-provoking terror of the novel and institutes a film taut with tension and great performances. 

8-year-old Wen (Kristen Cui) is on vacation with her two dads, Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff), collecting grasshoppers for her jar in front of the cabin they are vacationing. Out of the woods comes a giant, although gentle, man named Leonard (Dave Bautista) who helps Wen collect grasshoppers, taking extra care not to scare any of the ones already trapped in the jar. Wen, who is cautious at first, quickly lets her guard down around Leonard until three more strangers arrive holding customized weapons. Wen, scared, runs back to warn her parents.

These beginning moments display Shyamalan's skill with quickly and unexpectedly shifting gears with emotion and tone but maintaining an engaging and thrilling control. The utilization of a child's curiosity to introduce the menacing presence of strangers effectively transforms the film into a home invasion scenario brimming with terror and anxiety.

Inside the house, Andrew and Eric comfortably relax as Wen runs and pleads with them to listen to the warning from Leonard. The parents appease the young girl until a sudden knock at the door interrupts the conversation. Leonard calmly asks the family to open the door so that they can have a discussion. Andrew and Eric refuse, leading Leonard and his colleagues to break into the cabin aggressively. 

Once inside the cabin, Shyamalan introduces the mystery of the narrative, a trademark of the director's style and composition within his films. The mystery surrounds a choice that the captive family must make, a choice to save the world from an apocalypse by sacrificing one of their lives. The narrative jumps from the terror inside the cabin to crucial moments from the family's life, such as the complex adoption process for Wen, an awkward encounter with Andrew's parents, and an unexpected brutal attack inside a bar. These moments display the unfair struggles that Andrew and Eric experience simply because of their lifestyle choice; the trauma of these terrible experiences fuels aggression in every moment inside the cabin. In the beginning, these cutaway moments frame an interesting backstory for the couple, providing insight into the complicated love that has brought them to the specific and brutal moment. However, as the story builds more significant stakes, as the captor's premonitions become a reality, the jumping narrative moments to the past become unbalanced. It eventually undermines some of the established tension between the characters in the house.

Part of what makes the moments in the cabin so engaging is the excellent work of the entire cast and their character compositions. Ben Aldridge, who's steadfast and aggressive resistance against the home invaders, and Jonathan Groff, who's physically affected but protective instincts focused on his daughter, mix well together throughout their journey in the film. Rupert Grint, playing far outside the type of character he usually portrays as the hateful Redmond, is intimidating and menacing in every scene. Nikki Amuka-Bird, portraying a nurse named Sabrina, is conflicted with nearly every choice she makes. A majority of the performance happens through her eyes and facial expressions. The highlight of the film, however, belongs to Dave Bautista. The professional wrestler-turned-actor gives a thoughtful performance that is rich with emotion. His character Leonard, a school teacher, has the physical stature to be the most fearsome of the group. Instead, the performance is gentle and tormented. 

"Knock at the Cabin" is the best-directed film by M. Night Shyamalan in recent memory. The exceptional cast keeps the wheels of the mystery turning even when the story runs out of ideas to employ. There are emotionally exciting places to explore concerning the apocalyptic situation and the life choice that needs a solution within the story. While the book indulges the darker, more tangled threads of human behavior, the film never delves much further than the surface emotions. 

Monte's Rating

2.50 out of 5.00

No comments:

Post a Comment