Knock at the Cabin
It is still a Wednesday but before that I thought of wiping out a couple of movies from my list. And first up, I finished watching the new English film Knock At A Cabin which is directed by M Night Shyamalan. And if you have been following the filmography of the director then it has been a steady decline for him.
For those who aren’t familiar with his filmography, what if I tell you that one of the most iconic horror films was directed by M. Night Shyamalan titled The Sixth Sense. A man known for pulling off herculean twists at the fag end of his films was someone who had always generated interest. People would usually associate a twist in his film every single time and that was a sort of reputation that Shyamalan did bring to the table. Yet, if you have a glance at his recent films, you can make out that he is amidst a torrid space. His last film Old was so poorly executed that it almost infuriated even the staunchest of his fans. While many had written him off, there was a slender section who was willing to give him another chance.
Shyamalan did return to a genre which was familiar with him, having previously tasted success with films like The Sixth Sense and Signs. Knock At The Cabin did seem like an ideal comeback vehicle for talented director in a more comfortable space. But given his recent track record, it did leave me wondering whether the slumber would end with this film. The word of mouth for this film was positive and that did give me hope. So then does Knock At The Cabin manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Knock At The Cabin follows the story of a young family who are taken hostage by four armed people who have a rather peculiar demand for them. What is it and what happens after that? The story here had an interesting buildup with a cutting through sense of tension which was filled with mystery. But at the same time, it was a case of so near yet so far! The screenplay here standing at about a 100 minutes does make for a brisk watch in which the writers keep infusing the tension every passing minute. But is it an absolute killer of a screenplay? No!
The drama has a great setup wherein the world building was supremely interesting. The very first shot has an element of mystery tagged to it. All the principal characters are introduced one by one, leading to a situation which might be far-fetched and ambiguous but it is most definitely filled with tension. I did like how the writers did get straight to the point without spending time on the family that included gay parents. Shyamalan’s previous work, Old was guilty of exactly that which is why the buildup seemed to be dragged. But here it is concise and to the point.
The proceedings are engrossing and interesting as soon as the killings begin to unfold. There is no real explanation provided as to why the things stand as they are but the stakes in the drama are always on the ascendency with every passing minute. I did like how the drama was time-bound and this element did add the much needed urgency to the drama. Often, a one location drama can begin to get tedious but here the psychological horror element was enough to keep you invested throughout. There is a bit of a guessing game on as well on whether the characters should or should not take a decision, much of which does clear up towards the end.
The drama was tagging along nicely by ticking all the elements of a psychological horror, thus setting up things for a promising final act wherein a potential twist was awaiting the viewer. But here is where the drama does get a little wobbly. There is a nice little reference to the bible and religion but the finishing kick is missing. So much so that the final act is timid and almost frustrating at how simple it turned out to be. Had the final act been better, the overall impact of the film would have been far more than what it eventually turns out to be. The endings of Shyamalan have always been a talking point of a film and nothing changes here too. Except that the end here would be talked about for all the wrong reasons! Overall, the screenplay definitely has its moments of glory but the tepid end just leaves a bitter after-taste.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are interesting with a dash of emotions which make for a decently impactful watch. The BGM is terrific and elevates the drama at so many places. The cinematography is excellent, capturing moments of the apocalypse brilliantly. The editing is good for most parts of the drama. Director M. Night Shyamalan has done a good job but his fall at the finish line is a steep one. But having said that, this ain’t a train-wreck as his previous work Old. In that regard, the direction fares better here!
The performances are excellent here. Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn and Nikki Amuka-Bird have their moments to shine. The little girl Kristen Cui as Wen is first rate and does a terrific job. Ben Aldridge as Andrew has a prolific screen presence and does a good job. Jonathan Groff as Eric delivers a commendable act too by infusing his character with the right kind of emotions. But the performance of the film comes from Dave Bautista who is brilliant as Leonard. He is well restrained and comforting yet intimidating as well, and these emotions are pulled off rather well by him.
Knock At The Cabin is an intriguing and thrilling yet frustrating drama which is a clear case of there, but not quite there!