“Knock at the Cabin” was a knock on the head

Director M. Night Shyamalan fails to impress with his two-dimensional and predictable mystery/horror film.


Photo via Universal Pictures.

Sacrifices, apocalypses and the end of the entire world sounds like a thrilling and capturing movie right? Wrong.  While “Knock at the Cabin” by M. Night Shyamalan has all of these seemingly exciting topics, the movie was anything but.  

Released on Feb. 3rd, the movie follows a seven-year-old girl named Wen and her two dads–Eric and Andrew–as they are vacationing in a remote cabin. Wen and her dads are taken hostage by four armed strangers-–Leonard, Sabrina, Adriane and Redmond–who demand that the family sacrifice one of their own to avoid the apocalypse. Filled with fear, the family must make the hard choice or lose everything. 

The movie opens with Wen capturing grasshoppers when suddenly, a man walks up and instigates a conversation with her. The camera angles throughout the scene (and the rest of the movie) are closeup shots that show the character’s faces. These extreme closeup shots conveyed the fear all the characters were feeling and it enhanced their acting by displaying the facial expressions in more detail. Additionally, the cinematography was interesting in how they used distorted and old lenses to create a sense of disorientation throughout the film and how they used the camera in a very confined space to keep a sense of suspense in the film. While the performances and the close up shots go a long way, that was about all it had going for its strengths. 

Throughout most of the film, the dads and their captors are arguing about whether or not the kidnapping is real, which gets exhausting and repetitive quickly as the plot isn’t moving forward. It also felt straightforward and predictable as there was no plot twist, which M. Night Shyamalan is known for. So, I was disappointed when there wasn’t one in this film, resulting in my attention being dragged away from the movie. Someone could read a simple summary of the movie and from that already know what is going to happen. There was nothing added to the movie that made it jaw-dropping. For the entirety of the movie, I kept wanting something more to keep me invested in the plot, but it kept falling short of a major development in the storyline. We are slightly clued in on the fact that families sacrificing themselves to prevent the apocalypse could’ve been happening for decades, but it is never fully explained and we don’t know if it is true. This missing information makes for a confusing and shallow movie. Moreover, the characters kept falling short and had no character development, resulting in no emotional attachment to them. They were written very two-dimensionally with no substance.  

The acting was well done as shown by Jonathon Groff and Ben Aldridge who played Eric and Andrew. “Knock at the Cabin” cuts back and forth between the cabin and love story of Eric and Andrew, who have dealt with homophobia towards them, and their life with their adopted daughter. The audience is shown the struggles they have had to face as a gay couple and it is heartbreaking to watch. By showing this backstory, Shyamalan made me feel empathy for them. With little backstory on the four captors, however, there is no connection with them and what the plot has entailed for them. 

Overall, this movie did not meet my expectations and I felt there was a big element missing from it, the plot twist. The storyline was extremely simplistic and there was no depth to further engage the audience or develop the plot. I would not recommend watching this movie as it left me very unfulfilled and bored the entire time.