Director M. Night Shyamalan has made his career off of suspenseful supernatural thrillers with twist endings. “Knock at the Cabin” is no exception. From the beginning, the film lures you in with its premise and keeps you questioning it to the very end.
The film centers around a little girl and her parents as they are taken hostage by 4 strangers, while on vacation at a secluded cabin. The plot is simple and used to great effect; the action takes a back seat allowing the film to focus on the most engaging element, the characters.
By far the film’s greatest strength is its characters and performances, the stand out being Dave Bautista as “Leonard”, a compassionate and nurturing individual whose personality is contrasted heavily by his imposing physique and actions throughout the film. Other characters are equally well thought out and each actor adds a unique touch to their performance.
The emotional core of the film is the couple Eric and Andrew, played by Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge respectively. While the film thankfully doesn’t use them as cheap representation, their dynamic does feel a little flat and unconvincing, despite good performances from both Groff and Aldridge. Ultimately they fall victim to the film’s biggest flaw, the writing.
Some of the dialogue throughout the movie feels somewhat clunky. The characters and performances are engaging but they end up feeling somewhat flat, due to a lack of development. Aside from Eric and Andrew the characters are not given a lot of time to display their personalities.
While this works in favor of the mystery and suspense of the film, it does end up making some of the emotional climaxes somewhat underwhelming. The weak writing is especially tragic considering how well-paced the film is.
The movie does not waste time getting to the point. From the very beginning to the very end, the plot is moving forward, expertly building tension and suspense. At no point did I feel as though the film was dragging on or moving too quickly.
The film easily could have developed its characters fully within its runtime, rather than adding scenes or character interactions, some scenes could have been changed to better suit the narrative.
Regardless of its flaws, “Knock at the Cabin” is a pleasure to watch. Not only does it entertain and thrill, but it also has some great cinematography. The opening scene alone has some great shots that set the tone of the film perfectly and show why M. Night Shyamalan is a respected filmmaker.
It might not be one of the best movies you’ll see this year, but it is certainly worth a watch. It’s a well-paced thriller with some great acting and fun ideas, it doesn’t waste your time or your money.
- tv/movie review: Trina McLeary | The Telescope | All Rights Reserved