The apocalypse meets home invasion in M. Night Shyamalan’s tense adaptation of Paul G. Tremblay’s award-winning novel, The Cabin at the End of the World. Mostly set in one location, the film is a claustrophobic nail-biter that tackles themes of faith, love and sacrifice.
The exquisitely game cast turn in performances that amp up an ambience of dread and panic, with Dave Bautista’s sinister turn as cult-like leader Leonard particularly impressive.
Shyamalan’s camera work includes extreme close-ups and Dutch angles which alongside the suggestive sound design makes this an intense and stomach-churning experience.
A family, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are vacationing with their adopted daughter Wen (brilliant newcomer Kristen Cui) at an isolated cabin in the woods when their peaceful break turns into a nightmare with the appearance of a group of people who ask them to make an impossible choice in order to save the world.
Joining Leonard, are Redmond (Rupert Grint), Ardiane (Abby Quinn) and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) who tie up the couple and try to convince them that their apocalyptic visions are true to life. To say much more would spoil the game, but debate on reason and belief, fact and fiction feed into current conversations on conspiracy theories, ideology and manipulation in the digital age.
The family dynamic is convincing with Aldridge and Groff’s contrasting performances adding another level of uncertainty as to how the film will play out, but what’s never in doubt is that their characters both want to protect their daughter from harm. Cui is fantastic as a curious weirdo kid, gathering grasshoppers for her experiments, and all their credible turns keep you invested in their plight.
However, the screenplay doesn’t entirely satisfy, with the ending playing out too abruptly and certain characters a tad underwhelming. Ultimately, though, Shyamalan’s skillful execution delivers on a suspenseful thriller.
Knock At The Cabin will be released in cinemas on 3 February 2023