THIS ARTICLE HAS MAJOR SPOILERS
Knock at the Cabin is based on the apocalyptic book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay and whilst the film has several grim moments it’s not as dark as the book especially in the way it ends.
With the family of three Dads Eric & Andrew and their daughter Wen on holiday in a secluded log cabin deep in the woods they find four strangers Leonard (Dave Bautista), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Adriane (Abby Quinn) and Redmond (Rupert Grint) warning them of imminent apocalypse that can only be ended by the sacrifice of one of the three. So why is the movie ending of ‘Knock at the Cabin’ different from the book
MAJOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON
So while in the book and film Redmond puts himself forward for death after Eric & Andrew refuse to believe them and after this book and film diverge. Adrianne is next but Andrew escapes, gets his gun from the car and kills Sabrina but Leonard barricades himself in the bathroom but survives being shot only to slit his own throat when Eric & Andrew refuse to kill any of their family. But as the apocalypse starts Eric elects to be killed and the apocalypse ends and Andrew and Wen drive off into a partial catastrophe ridden world.
However in the book Andrew escapes, gets his gun and instead kills Adriane and has a fight with Leonard over the gun during which Wen is accidently shot. It doesn’t end the apocalypse as she wasn’t a willing sacrifice. It’s Sabrina who kills Leonard and with that Andrew & Eric escape in their car taking Wen’s body with them after which Sabrina then kills herself.
It’s a very downbeat ending and screenwriters Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman believed that the end had to change for a major Hollywood film. “We adapted it slightly different than the book, and then [Shyamalan] had a whole new vision for what the ending could be,” said Desmond and Sherman …….’This is a big, wide release movie that is meant for a very large audience. There are some decisions that the book made that were pretty dark and may have been a little too much for a broader audience. That was a decision that [Shyamalan] immediately recognized. It’s a great ending now’.
‘I think it’s dark and terrifying, but uplifting in the sense that it ends with these two people who at least still have each other,” said Quinn.
Tremblay says he left the ending of his book “purposely ambiguous” as to whether the world is going to end however he said the ending of the film is “not that hopeful” either. “I find it horrific there’s this higher power that is just going to willy-nilly sacrifice humans for everybody else,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like a very moral thing to do, so I don’t find it that hopeful. I find the idea of what happened in my book — that the two characters reject that, like ‘No, we’re not going to sacrifice. That’s wrong. We’re going to go on.’ That’s a little bit more hopeful.”
The last word is with M Night Shyamalan who says, “The most important thing at the end is that everybody puts themselves in the characters’ shoes,” the director said. “What would they have done? I feel that genre helps me tell emotional stories. I’m generally an optimistic guy, so I get to do really dark things, and the audience feels held by somebody that isn’t nihilistic. I can push pretty hard because you can feel the vocabulary is not from someone who’s trying to hurt you.”