While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse. – (Source)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68% (Critics) / 65% (Audience)
MetaScore: 62 – Generally favorable reviews
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, Michael Sherman
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Rupert Grint
Studio: Universal Pictures
For a time, Knock At The Cabin keeps the audience guessing as to whether we were watching the End Times or if these four people were just insane members of a doomsday cult and that uncertainty was one of my favorite parts of the movie and had me questioning which would be worse: if this was all real or if it were part of a group delusion?
The use of the Four Horsemen as the agents of God’s righteous anger being a bunch of average shmoes was a nice touch too. This reluctant band of doom-bringers who were all also tortured into their new jobs through constant visions of death and destruction all are so pitiful and each actor brings a different kind of desperation to their performance. Rupert Grint gets the most showy role as the more aggressively antagonistic of the foursome, Abby Quinn was heartbreaking as her neurotic line cook got more and more desperate trying to complete her mission, and Nikki Amuka-Bird really moved me as the nurse who was called to do things that are wholly contrary to the role in life that she had chosen.
But is was Dave Bautista who really stole this whole movie because shockingly Mr. Bautista is a really good actor. As the leader of The Horsemen and an elementary school teacher, Bautista’s Leonard cuts an odd figure. He is a large, muscular man with a bald head and tattoos stuffed into the “uniform” of a public school teacher. He speaks softly and is constantly reassuring while carrying a makeshift ax-like weapon. And wildest of all is that this large, imposing yet nerdy looking man gives the most soulful performance of this whole movie. Every action he is forced to take seems to rip a piece of his heart out yet he soldiers on doing horrible things in the most polite and tender way possible especially when dealing with little Wen (played by the cute as a button Kristen Cui). Bautista is probably pigeon-holed into certain roles because of his looks but Hollywood should do some more blind casting and let this guy cook in roles that maybe he wouldn’t be the first actor you’d think of because he has the chops for it.
I also liked that the family chosen to make a sacrifice that would save the rest of humanity was a gay married couple and their adopted daughter. And not just any gay couple but one that has been victimized and shunned for who they are by strangers and loved ones alike. So when this heavy decision is placed in their hands it isn’t all that shocking that they would initially be perfectly fine with letting humanity fend for itself because their chosen family means more to them than the rest of the world does. And you really can’t fault them for feeling that way once the film shows the incidents that shaped their outlook on the world.
M. Night Shyamalan gets ragged on a lot (some of the criticism is fair and some not) but this film reminded me that a lot of the visual tricks that new horror directors get lauded for are all things that Shyamalan was doing all the way back in The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan has a way of shooting a scene from inventive angles and using camera movement to give a sense of kinetic energy to a scene that is actually very still that is quote underrated.
While I liked the idea of a gay couple being at the center of this movie I was a bit underwhelmed by Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff) as said couple. I never bought them as two people who would end up in a committed loving relationship at all. Not in the scenes in the cabin or the flashbacks to their relationship in the real world. The two guys just were not convincing as people who would be with each other.
This is a seemingly pro-religion movie that treats the Judeo-Christian god as the scary, petty and spiteful Old Testament deity that rarely gets much play in media nowadays. I mean, it’s bad enough that God is ready to just end the human experiment with multiple acts of natural disasters and plagues but God doesn’t stop with just murdering and terrorizing the entire planet, oh no, God also wants to torture a nice family of three for shits and giggles. The God of this movie is a gigantic dick.
Final Verdict: A thrilling psychological horror movie that makes you think a bit about metaphysical and spiritual concepts while still entertaining with smooth direction and really good acting performances throughout.
Loomis Rating: Knock At The Cabin gets 3.5 out of 4 Gun-Totin’ Dr. Loomis’