Knock at the Cabin Review

knock at the cabin poster



  • Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • Director: M. Night Shyamalan
  • Where to Watch: In Theaters

Knock at the Cabin Review: 

A young family is vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods. They think it’s just going to be a nicq quite get away for the weekend where they can relax and have fun. Everything seems idealic until a group of strangers knock at the cabin door. These strangers frightens the family at first, but they are truly terrified once the strangers reveal their true purpose. They are here to force the family to make a choice that can save or destroy the world. Now the family must figure out who and what to believe in order to survive.

I’m no stranger to M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography. From a young age, his movies have terrified me to some extent. His greatest works (by my reckoning) include classics like The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village and, Unbreakable. Famous for his twists and turns that shock audiences, Shyamalan is a true mastermind of subverting expectations. But not all his works have been critically praised. It seems that for every solid movie Shyamalan puts out, there are a few rougher ones before and after. Knock at The Cabin is preceded by Old, which is universally regarded as a terrible flick. Before Old there was Glass, which is the somewhat disappointing conclusion to the Unbreakable Split trilogy. And most remember the disaster that was Avatar The Last Airbender. So it’s fair to say that M. Night movies are a roll of the dice in terms of audience reaction.

This particular roll of the dice, however, is a winner. Knock at the Cabin is a sharp, quick 90 minute thriller that accomplishes a lot of different things in its short run time. In most Shyamalan movies, there are cuts back and forth to provide context and background information throughout the movie and Cabin is no exception. Small pieces of information are tossed out about the family in small throwaway scenes that make much more sense later. It’s not particular inventive at this point, but they are distributed well so that they don’t stop the story short or leave the audience confused. The thrilling moments snap the tension into place like a tightrope as the main characters are left to carefully place one foot in front of the other to make their way across whatever chaos they are precariously perched above. One mistep and everything comes crumbling down is the exact type of feeling I need to have in a good horror thriller and Shyamalan expertly draws this feeling out of the audience and makes them sweat. The stakes of this movie climb ever higher and lead to the ultimate twist. Or do they? You’ll have to decide for yourself once you’ve seen it.

The cast is a random assortment of big to mid level names including Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Jonathon Groff on the high end with Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ben Aldridge, and Abby Quinn in the middle. Newcommer Kristin Cui also stars as Wen in her first performance. The big three are excellent with Bautista earning top marks for his performance as Leonard. He’s evolved so far beyond Drax the Destroyer in the MCU movies and I’m very excited to see what his future rolls look like. Groff is another highlight, especially because of his chemistry with Aldridge and Cui. Grint, Amuka-Bird, and Quinn are all passable, with Quinn delivering an annoying performance. She stuck out as the sore thumb of the group and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it would have been solved with more screen time, but that would have meant sacricing time from others which wouldn’t have been worth it.

Shot by Jarin Blaschke and Lowell A. Meyer, Knock at the Cabin is a good looking movie on the practical side of things. Bautista’s inhuman size and strength is highlighted in every seen by placing the camera above his shoulders or down in front looking up at this beast of a man towering over everyone else. The audience can’t escape him and it helps align their fear with what the main characters are feeling throughout most of the movie. The color grading is exceptionally bright and saturated, which makes the greens and whites pop against the brown and splashes of red. But as good as the visuals are, the VFX looked thick and rubbery, with very low grade textures and animations. The score was also very uninspring with nothing new presented to the audience. All very par for the course in a Shyamalan movie. The real stuff always looks great and the fake stuff looks very fake.

Knock at the Cabin is a surprisingly well made and enjoyable follow up for genre mastermind M. Night Shyamalan. Leaps and bounds better than Old, the latest horror thriller is a sharp and well made 90 minute movie. With an exceptional performance from Dave Bautista and great camera work, Knock at the Cabin is one of the years earliest surprises. While not quite as good as some of the directors earlier works, it is certainly in the conversation to earn a spot in my personal top 5 Shyamalan movies.

Dylan M.
Dylan M.

Dylan created Movies Not Films as a fun project to stay occupied during the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He started with a simple movie diary on a spreadsheet and eventually transformed it into with a robust catalog of reviews, suggestions, and ranking lists. Currently living with his now-fiancé and two dogs, Dylan has a full-time career but still makes time to watch all the latest movies and most of the new TV shows.

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