Who hasn’t had the Mormons knock at the cabin (see what we did there) but actually knock at the front door. Usually at an inconvenient time and in our case always on a Sunday morning after a big night out and never able to get rid of them. Week in, week out this would happen until, driven to desperate measures, we answered the door fully naked. An appalling vison by anyone’s standards and frankly as I stood there giving them an eyeful of what can best be described as the last turkey in the shop they finally and very quickly walked off to bother the neighbours instead. There’s none of that in Knock at the Cabin. Led by gentle giant Dave Bautista as Leonard he first approaches 8 year old Wen (Kristen Cui) the adopted Asian daughter of Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) as she collects grasshoppers in the woods of the secluded forest cottage she’s holidaying with her parents.
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Returning to the house Wen tells her parents about the man outside who is joined by three others wielding make shift weapons. Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) , Ardiane (Abby Quinn) and Redmond (Rupert Grint) and they knock at the cabin asking to come in to discuss something of huge importance. It’s at this point that having been refused entry the film becomes a home invasion movie resulting in Eric & Andrew tied to chairs as the unwelcome visitors break the news. The world is about to end!…. but they can save it if one of the three agrees to sacrifice themselves and end the Apocalypse. The Mormons have never taken it this far but these four visitors are adamant that they have been bought to the cabin by shared visions and if either Andrew, Eric or Wen don’t sacrifice themselves the rest of the world will die but the three will live. It’s like the episode of Love Island that we really want to see. Their disbelief is understandable but when Leonard turns on the TV news the predictions seem to be coming true around the world and it suddenly seems that the four home invaders might be onto something. If only Leonard had turned on Fox news the credibility of what they claim might have been undermined but we digress.
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Dave Bautista continues to prove that ex-wrestlers turned actors don’t have to be action stars and here he is meek in tone and mild in disposition even when the going gets bloody. Eric and Andrew increasingly represent both ends of the spectrum – Andrew the disbeliever of what he perceives as conspiracy consumed loons whereas Eric begins to come round to the idea that their visitors are enlightened and speak the truth – there’s the subtext of covid paranoia going on here. With flashbacks and the idea that maybe one of the four intruders is known to Eric & Andrew from a previous incident and then it turns out that the four met on a websites message board only fuels the speculation that there’s more going on here that is being let on.
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Knock at the cabin is the latest from writer–director M Night Shyamalan, king of the twist in the tale but like his last film ‘Old’, Knock at the Cabin is also based on a novel. The director’s usual trademarks are mostly all here: set in Philadelphia, careful framing, his own cameo role, and when it does turn gruesome he spares us any graphic bloodletting. The first two acts are highly effective and Shyamalan knows how to draw his audience in and yet because of his oeuvre there’s always the thought of ‘what is the twist here?’ at the back of the mind. But it’s the third act that lets it down veering away from the novel which does get dark, probably too dark for a major Hollywood movie which is a shame as how this draws to its climax is something of a disappointment. But until then this is both compelling and gripping