Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan, Film Nation Entertainment and Universal Pictures are messengers starting with a KNOCK AT THE CABIN.
In a beautifully secluded cabin, family Andrew (Ben Aldridge), Eric (Jonathan Groff) and daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) are having a quiet vacation. While capturing and friending grasshoppers, young Wen meets Leonard (Dave Bautista) who is calm and announces that she and her dads are about to help the world.
Wen takes off to tell her dads what is happening when there is a knock at the cabin door. Andrew and Eric have no intention of letting them in but Leonard makes it clear that they will come in with or without their help – although he would prefer with their help. Once inside, Leonard comes in with Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Adriane (Abby Quinn) and Redmond (Rupert Grint).
Each makes their introduction but it is Leonard that expresses why they are there. He tells them that a sacrifice must be made in order to stop an impending apocalypse and lays out how it must happen. Eric and Andrew are horrified at their request and make it clear that they will not comply.
What happens every time they refuse brings them closer and closer to a truth that is unfathomable.
Bautista as Leonard is the character that immediately bring a tone of the ominous from the very beginning. He brings a presence that is both horrifying and calming in such a way that once his life story is explained, there is an ‘a-ha’ moment to his personality. I must say the choice was a fantastic one because of the duality of who Leonard is and what Leonard is saying. Bautista brings a dazzling hypnotic effect on the audience wanting to believe him and not wanting to believe him. Nicely done!
Aldridge as Andrew is in protect mode from the very beginning. Dealing with his own family and relationship issues, there is something in his past that has set him with a bit of anger. Now, the intruders bring it out full force in him as he tries to understand what is happening and, more importantly, how to get out of it alive. Aldridge brings the intensity full force.
Groff as Eric is the quieter side of the couple taking in everything that is going on around him. He listens and is the taking in what Leonard and the others are saying. Watching and putting the pieces together as he is able, it is Groff’s portrayal of Eric that brings the word ‘hope’ to mind.
Cui as Wen is inquisitive, a bit trusting and wants it all to stop. Remaining close to her dads, Wen is exposed to the horror that Leonard and the others have brought to the cabin. That doesn’t mean she isn’t keenly aware of everything around her because she is also trying to put the adult pieces together.
Amuka-Bird as Sabrina tries to keep things as calm as Leonard does but mainly begs Eric to listen to what they are saying. Amuka-Bird brings a determination to the truth of her character. Quinn as Ardiane is the nervous of the bunch but trusts in what she believes while also keeping the household calm.
The not-so-calming force if Grint as Redmond. He comes in blazing and makes no excuse for it all. He wants things to go smoothly but knows none of what they are saying is easy to hear and believes that what is asked of Andrew and Eric isn’t going to go down the way the group wants. Grint’s character is a departure from that of the AppleTV+ series THE SERVANT (which if you haven’t watched I have to ask – why not?), playing the out-of-control Julian Pearce in another Shyamalan piece worth watching.
Other cast includes McKenna Kerrigan as Andrew’s Mom, Ian Peakes as Andrew’s Father, Denise Nakano as the newscaster, Kittson O’Neill as the BBC Anchor and Billy Vargus as the Seismologist.
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KNOCK AT THE CABIN is an adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World. Shyamalan took an interest after reading the screenplay, rewrote the script and partnered with Universal Pictures.
Coming in at one hour and forty minutes, this is not a fast-paced film nor does it need to be. Bautista’s character of Leonard set the pace and does not deviate from the path his character is on. Yes, it is a race against time but when dealing with human emotions and concepts that are difficult to grasp, the pace means nothing when there are only two outcomes.
I actually like the film because of that simple duality. Yes, there is a brutality that is not ignored and it is continually made clear that inaction has consequences but neither choice can not even be considered by Andrew. Keeping the location to a simple cabin in the woods keeps the audiences’ eyes on the story at hand making it impossible to be distracted or look away.
Am I being too vague, absolutely! We the audience, are equally tied to the chairs and forced to listen and then choose for ourselves and it will lead to many conversations long after the film has ended. That, my friends, is how you tell a story!
In the end – save family or humanity, make a choice!