M. Night Shyamalan’s newest work shows he’s still on top form with twists and intrigue.
By Kenya Harris, Staff Writer
M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, “Knock at the Cabin” is ultimately a meditation on humanity, free will and how far we are willing to go for the good of mankind.
The movie opens at a picturesque cabin nestled in the woods of Pennsylvania, where the protagonist couple Eric (Johnathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are enjoying a nice getaway in the countryside with their adopted child Wen (Kristen Cui). The couple’s quiet retreat is interrupted by four strangers and quickly turns into a fight for survival. The trespassers are driven by an unseen force, to push Eric and Andrew into a decision that may ultimately cost their family.
“We’re here because we have a job to do,” said Leonard (Dave Bautista). “In fact, it might be the most important job in the history of the world.”
The ensemble cast delivers plenty of strong performances. There are some stellar performances by Groff and Aldridge. Using primarily close ups on their faces, Shyamalan keeps viewers grounded in the emotion of each character. Groff and Aldridge made the audience feel as though they were living out this nightmare. Another noteworthy part of the ensemble are the actors who play the strangers at the cabin. Bautista as Leonard, Nikki Amuka-Bird as Sabrina, Abby Quinn as Adriane, and Rupert Grint as Redmond each give a stirring performance, while letting viewers into the minds of the characters. Each stranger is played with complexity and nuance. The strangers' interactions with the family are jarring and surprising at the same time.
As a writer and director, Shyamalan is known for paradigm-shifting twists that come at the right moment to upend everything. Think back to Bruce Willis’s final realization in “The Sixth Sense.” This film continues in the Shyamalan legacy but not with just one trick alone. He is crafty, with heavy, brooding dialogue in which characters philosophize about their experiences. Hyper aware of his audience, Shyamalan has his characters debunk the theories created in the audience’s minds as they watch. Movie goers will hang on to every bit of dialogue for the right clues.
The end result is a heart wrenching mystery film about free will and belief, where the audience has the final choice about what they believe actually happened. “Knock at the Cabin” is a satisfying puzzle-box that will make viewers question every moment. It delivers exactly what audiences have come to expect from Shyamalan: a story about community, mystery and the forces that bring us together.