Knock at the Cabin

Night Shyamalan was once one of Hollywood’s hottest filmmakers. His name was a bigger draw than any actor who may be starring in one of his projects. One article even dubbed him, “The Next Steven Spielberg?” Perhaps that was the beginning of his downfall because as big M. Night was, he was just as suddenly not. A string of both commercially and critic flops will do that. However, he then went back to his roots when he made “Split” (a movie that should have at least earned James McAvoy a Best Actor nomination), which turned out to be a surprised sequel to one of his earlier successes, “Unbreakable”. He has been on a steady ascension since and continues in that direction with his latest, “Knock at the Cabin”.

This is one of those thrillers that gets going from the very first frame and does not let up until the very last. At a remote cabin, a little girl and her two dads are taken hostage by four strangers with diabolical looking weapons. The strangers inform the trio that either Daddy Eric (Jonathan Groff), Daddy Andrew (Ben Aldridge) or Wen (Kristen Cui) must be sacrificed to avoid the apocalypse from occurring. Further, one of the three must be the one to kill the other, the strangers themselves will not harm them, but will make them witness what happens to the world if they don’t comply.

The early reputation of the director is that he was known for the twist. Audiences knew some huge, unexpected turn of events was going to happen some time in his work. M. Night does not rely on that as much these days. In “Knock at the Cabin” he doesn’t have to. Given the situation and the stakes he keeps the tension and suspense going strong. Are these four strangers for real? When the family starts seeing global calamities on TV, will that convince them? What will the four strangers do if they keep refusing and what do they intend to use their weapons for?

The actor who gets top billing here is Dave Bautista, former WWE wrestler turned actor who is best know as Drax in Marvel’s Guardian of the Galaxy franchise. He follows in the footsteps as other wrestlers turned actors such as Dwayne Johnson and John Cena. Like them, he is mostly known for starring in action movies and the occasional comedy. He really turns a corner when its coms to his acting in “Knock at the Cabin”. He is one of the hostage takers named Leonard. He is a man who is not enjoying one moment on what he must do. If anything, he is tremendously saddened. He mentions early on how what he does, he does with a broken heart and that really shows. An actor of his physical stature rarely gets a role where they can truly emote, but this is a occasion where he can, and he surprisingly pulls it off wonderfully.

Usually, M. Night is the sole writer on his films. However, this time he has joined forces with Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman to help adapt the book written by Paul Treblay. Greenlighting this script must have been a cinch because each voice/character is very distinct. After the first few lines Wan speaks and you instantly like her. Every actor does well by all the parts they play. In addition, the haunting score provided by Herdís Stefánsdóttir is the perfect fit for the whole tone of the picture.

“Knock at the Cabin” has a release date of February 3rd. That’s significant because it means the month of January is over and the “January Junk” the studios usually release on us (and have) is done. We can now expect, at least hope, to get a better crop of movies. Obviously, that won’t hold true for the whole year, but at least we have our first good offering of the year.

3 Swords