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Film Reviews by Lisa Blanck
Knock at the Cabin
| Thursday, 02.09.2023, 04:12 AM |   (197 views)

Knock at the Cabin is filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan's newest project but he's visiting old, familiar territory. Just as in his film Signs, Shyamalan is once again exploring God, belief and faith. And it's up to the viewer to decide whether to believe... or not.

Replacing invasion by extraterrestrials with humans, four former strangers descend on a cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania to “prevent the apocalypse”.  To complete their task, they must convince one of the three people currently renting the cabin to commit suicide.  Why visit these three people in particular - well, you'll have to buy a ticket to find out.

The trio are a pair of dads, Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff) and their 7-year old adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui). The quartet of home wreckers who descend from the four corners of the country are Dave Bautista (Leonard), Redmond (Rupert Grint), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Adriane (Abby Quinn). As seen in the opening credits, each of the four have been doodling apocalyptic scenes at their day jobs.  Piles of blackened bodies, ghosts, walking dead and a huge, hairy venomous spider decorate menus, medical records, etc., presumably where the four are employed.

After Leonard strikes up a tentative friendship with young Wen, by catching grasshoppers in the field with her, the rest of the quartet quickly arrive on the cabin porch, equipped with some very nasty home-made weaponry.  They do expect to convince one of the three to accept their group delusion. That if a suicide is not completed, the world will devolve into torrential floods, sweeping plagues, the sky will fall to earth and we will be forced into eternal darkness, to roam screaming for eternity. 

Before I get into the review, I should add that in keeping with many of his other films, Director Shyamalan doesn't overlook cameo-ing himself in Knock.  Look for him in an advertising spot for air fryers, extolling the virtues of how fast everything cooks.  The double meaning is definitely not unintended. 

As a trusted reviewer, I won't divulge the story details, most of which is quite antiseptic for the number of on-screen deaths that follow that first knock at the door. But requesting a suicide for God? I'm no Catholic, but I'm pretty sure that suicide is shunned by the Church. And the cabin family weren't suddenly overcome by the holy spirit and seeing visions, hearing God's voice in their ear, as those who become saints are said to do before their own ritualized suicide, per history books. In fact, they're seemingly not religious at all.  So who, or what, exactly, is driving the quartet to perpetrate their mass delusions on three innocent people?

Could social media be the actual evil that Shyamalan is exploring?  Because the gang of four admitted they found each other in an online chat, where so many lost people find the lies that they embrace as their truth, these days. But let's not turn this into a political treatise.  It's just a movie, after all. 

Are the visions they bring to the cabin truly a search for salvation or are they messengers of something sinister? Delving into Google, you'll find that in the Book of Revelation, Satan will use dreams and visions to deceive people. So this is why I'm convinced that the quartet were not sent on a heavenly quest, even though they believed. Not that I ken to either God or Satan.  Good and evil, yes, definitely.  But actual entities are a stretch. 

Many of the visions brought to the cabin family through their big screen tv, to try to convince them of their need for haste to make a choice, were simply not logistically possible. Here, Shyamalan's plot points were overwhelmingly flawed. 

First, if you're going to present a devastating tidal wave as proof of your truth, you'd need to show it from a perspective NOT ACTUALLY ON THE BEACH. Because if everyone is wiped out, where did the video come from??? It wasn't being livestreamed.  Bodies, towels and I-phones have all been sucked out into the ocean!

Second, if planes start falling from the sky, you'd think that all the planes not currently in flight would be grounded. But 30 minutes after this catastrophe, ANOTHER PLANE SUDDENLY PLUMMETS TO EARTH? You mean to tell me that it took 30 minutes for that plane to get the word to land wherever they could?

Sorry, no. This was a shared psychosis between four people who found one victim willing to believe their paranoid delusions. I'm a fan of Shyamalan's current Apple series Servant. Big fan. Creeps galore. BTW, now I know what Grint was doing on his time off from that series. And his Knock character does provide an interesting backstory.  Split – another hit out of the park for Shyamalan, in my opinion. Knock at the Cabin felt more like a night of spooky stories about Cropsey told around the campfire, but without the creepy glowing flashlight stuck under your chin.    

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor and Movie Reviewer for In Focus  Her background includes 30+ years of digital editing for WESH2 News and WKMG News.  She also edits on-air promotional spots for Matter Of Fact, a highly-rated nationally syndicated news and information program.  For more than 30 years she has covered the Florida Film Festival and the World Peace Film Festival, with additional experience in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at MTV Networks.  She was previously a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper.

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