“Knock at the Cabin”


Metacritic (2/10), Letterboxd (1/5), Imdb.com (2/10)

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan truly is a filmmaker who has lost his way. The once-promising auteur has delivered yet another in a string of cinematic disappointments with this long-winded, overly talky, patently obvious, unsuspenseful account of an unexpected visit to a vacationing family (a pair of same-sex parents and their young adopted daughter) by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (no, I’m not giving anything away here – that’s apparent from the trailer, let alone the excessively delayed revelation in the film). The members of this alternative household are given the option by their unforeseen visitors to sacrifice one of themselves in order to forestall the end of the world, an inevitability sure to pass if they fail to comply. And, if they refuse, the bringers of doom will themselves be sacrificed, after which various calamities will be unleashed against humanity. As intriguing as this premise is, though, the players in this story, quite ironically, talk this possibility to death, leaving viewers wishing for something to happen to make the production even moderately interesting (talk about yawn city). In addition to the endless dialogue, audiences are fed a diet of cheesy, sometimes-implausible special effects, gratuitous violence (even if only by implication), and, surprisingly, the lack of a twist, one of this director’s signature artistic tricks. What’s more, actor Dave Bautista, as capable as he might be in any number of supporting roles, simply isn’t up to carrying the lead here; he’s just not a strong enough performer for that. But what’s most troubling are the themes permeating this work, even if unintentional or only cautionary in nature. The “be very afraid of everything” message runs strong and deep, as does the picture’s conventional fire and brimstone religiosity. Even its well-meaning support of the gay community boomerangs on itself and ultimately reinforces (albeit inadvertently) stereotypically homophobic sentiments and outlooks. At this point, given the filmmaker’s track record, I’m puzzled that any backers would want to continue giving money to Shyamalan to keep making movies. It’s been a long time since he’s made anything worth watching, and this offering merely continues a trend that’s been going on for years now.