Arts & Entertainment

‘Knock at the Cabin’ is a thrilling alternative to romance this season

Sick of Valentine’s Day rom-coms? Try this LGBTQ-led thriller instead! Though it’s not perfect, it has plenty of mystery, humanity and love.

In “Knock at the Cabin,” a blissful family vacation turns into a nightmare for lovebirds Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their young daughter Wen (Kristen Cui). A strange group led by Leonard (portrayed by Dave Bausista) arrives claiming they can prevent the apocalypse and the family begin to fear for their lives. They are told that they must choose one of their own to sacrifice, or the world will end. 

The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who is primarily known for films such as “The Sixth Sense” (1999) and more recently, “Split” (2016). Shyamalan is known as a master of tension and mystery through the lens. However, not all of his films have been able to pull off some of his more ambitious or unique ideas. This film, though flawed, has an appropriate amount of these elements balanced with dialogue and setup. 

Dave Bautista has been noted as a stand-out with this film, and it is no wonder as to why. In 2022 and 2023, his career has seen new highs. Bautista feels kind-hearted, despite it being unclear whether the family can trust the stranger’s outlandish claims. He brings a sense of warmth despite being an intimidating and untrustworthy character, and his genuine charm makes him extremely likable to watch. Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge have great chemistry, while Kristen Cui is lovable and believable as the daughter. The supporting cast, made up of Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint, add intrigue and layers to the story. 

The concept itself is interesting and the movie pulls it off well enough. Some of the plot was confusing to watch, and at times the mystery was upped to a frustrating degree; but ultimately nothing was left unsatisfying. Shyamalan utilized uneasiness effectively and didn’t overcomplicate the story. Some of the elements felt awkward at times, but the film never loses its purpose. 

Jarin Blaschke, known for his work on “The Lighthouse” and “The Witch,” brings phenomenal cinematography that is a highlight of the film. The colors are vibrant and everything feels crisp and easy on the eye. There were a lot of close-up shots and Dutch angles–a technique where the camera is tilted– that mixed it up and brought a new perspective to the film, particularly in the opening scene. 

The film is a surprisingly nice take on humanity and an engaging thought experiment. By the end, it had an exciting climax that was heartfelt and well-acted, though a bit corny at times. Shyamalan did not stray into his overly convoluted or strange storytelling techniques that he has fallen prey to in the past, which was a relief. It’s safe to say the film is overall a success. 

“Knock at the Cabin” is currently in theaters.

Star Rating: 3.5/5