'Knock the Shack' review: M. Night Shyamalan reminds us why we liked him in the first place

The film, starring Dave Bautista and Jonathan Grove, plays to Shyamalan's strengths and brings the writer-director back to some of his favorite topics.

At the beginning of Knock on the Log Cabin, we see seven-year-old Wen (Kristen Choi) collecting grasshoppers outside a cabin in the middle of the woods. She approached the bugs cautiously, collected them in her hand, and placed them in the jar, making sure none of the insects inside would jump out. After screwing on the lid of the jar, she told the grasshoppers that she would not harm them, but that she just wanted to study them.

On the one hand, it's easy to see this moment as M. Night Shyamalan (directed and co-written with Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman based on the Paul G. Tremblay book The Cabin at the End of the World) saying he's the watcher of this world, He put all these characters in a jar and studied what happens when they get together. But zooming out a bit more, this moment is more likely to represent Shyamalan's vision of a higher power, because God - however defined it is - looks like a child playing with his bugs, testing them, watching their reactions . there is always a slight possibility People outside the jar might intervene, but they never do so, instead watching how the creatures inside the jar react to their environment.

In a way, Shyamalan almost uses Knock at the Cabin as a way to explore themes he's played with before, with varying degrees of success, such as beliefs (signs, villages) and ignorant proof of truth to avoid world destruction It's there (happening). However, by confining the story to this cabin in the woods, it also plays to Shyamalan's strengths, considering he's often at his best when he places his characters in claustrophobic and confined situations (signs mainly The point of view of the house shows us the alien invasion in the middle of nowhere, and Shyamalan also came up with the Devil story, which takes place entirely in an elevator). While Shyamalan was sure to hit his luck, Knock on Log House combines Shyamalan's interests and strengths to end up being one of the best films in the director's diverse filmography.

When Win collects her grasshoppers, she encounters Leonard (Dave Bautista), who looks nervous and a bit scared, but considering he is made of Dave Bautista. Leonard tells Win that he wants to meet her fathers Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and discuss something very important with them. Wen runs to her father and they try to stop Leonard and his colleagues (Nikkie Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint) from entering the cabin, but their efforts are in vain. Once inside, Leonard explains why he and three others are here: They see visions of destruction that will lead to the end of the world, and the only way to stop it is Eric, Andrew, or Vin.

What makes this situation all the more disturbing is that Leonard and his team obviously didn't want to do this to the family, but they were compelled by some unexplainable force to accept this horrific act. They didn't want to tear the family apart or force them to make such a bad choice, but their beliefs left them no choice. If one member of the family doesn't die, everything else dies.

Shyamalan has always been a master of space horror and knows how Use the constraints of position to maximize fear. Case in point, Cole (Haley Joel Osment) hides in his red tent before realizing he's not alone in there with a sixth sense, or that he could have an alien How eerie it feels to be passing through a home recording. Shyamalan is great within constraints, and given the one location and small number of characters, the constraints feel like one of the tightest Shyamalan films in a long time.

It's also fun to watch Shyamalan and the old 2021 dramas, where he tries to adapt existing stories and add his style to the narrative. Knock at the Cabin doesn't have the expected "Shyamalan twist," and it does change details from the original book, but Knock at the Cabin ends up feeling like a neat combination of the original idea and Shyamalan's tone—both work well together. Knock at the Cabin The Only Time What struggles with the story is its approach to queerness, as the film occasionally throws up the idea that the visitors might just be vengeful paranoiacs wreaking havoc on the two parents, though that's more of a rationalization These actions are the opposite of what is really possible.

But it's a concept that works, as Shyamalan's actors sell the idea well. Bautista is terrific as Leonard, a teacher who realizes the horrible effect he has had on the family, but knows that not doing so will only make things worse. Despite the terrible things Leonard and his team are doing, we manage to empathize with them because their devotion to the belief in their vision makes us believe in them. This may be Bautista's best role to date, a performance that showcases the emotional depth he can deliver in every scene, a gentle giant who struggles with his choices throughout the story, but He knew he was committing a necessary evil.

Eric and Andrew are also key to making this story work, as they both represent differences of belief that make this scene much more difficult. Eric, played by Jonathan Groff, quickly comes to accept the possibility that the intruders were telling the truth, as their first refusal to sacrifice family members led to a major earthquake and subsequent The tsunami destroyed the world. But Ben Aldridge's Andrew has also been identified He believes it's all nonsense and that killing a person - especially someone he loves deeply - isn't going to save the world. Shyamalan uses these two characters to comment on our world: some who can see facts and truth and realize that change needs to happen, while others can see the writing on the wall and make excuses that they don't need to change .

Knock at the Cabin definitely feels like Shyamalan's biggest dissection of faith in years, as the sacrifice is in many ways reminiscent of Abraham trying to sacrifice his son Isaac, and the four invaders can't help but feel like biblical messengers, Heralds that their actions will bring about the end of an era. While this has definitely been a Shyamalan interest in the past, Knock at the Cabin manages to get away with it without being very didactic about the importance of faith. In this COVID world, Knocker is also an easy reminder of how people can ignore the signs and try to live their lives without any distractions, happy to rationalize their perspective even as the world around them falls apart.

Fundamentally, however, Knock Cabin succeeds because it evokes Shyamalan's early days, when he felt Alfred Hitchcock was coming next, and his films would make Audiences have been talking for days. While Knock on Log House wasn't necessarily up to Shyamalan's standards in the late 90s to early 2000s, it's hard to watch Knock on Log House and not be shocked to remember why Shyamalan felt so important in the first place, and to watch one of his movies How exciting.

Rating: B

Knocker opens February 3.

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