Geek Review: Knock at the Cabin

Twist-ending master M. Night Shyamalan is back in his element, with another supernatural take on a premise that starts off simple enough, before going off the deep end. This time however, the setting isn’t new as Knock at the Cabin is based on Paul Tremblay’s novel, The Cabin at the End of the World, but with some deviations to keep things fresh.

Knock at the Cabin follows dads Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui), who are tucked away in a cabin in the woods for a family getaway, and experience a home invasion led by Leonard (Dave Bautista) and his posse Redmond (Rupert Grint), Adriane (Abby Quinn), and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who are burdened with visions of the end of the world. 

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The family is faced with the impossible task of sacrificing one of their family members in order to stop the end of the world but there are rules, as Leonard and his friends, who are later referred to as the Four Horsemen (of the Apocalypse), can’t force them to pick, nor can the four kill them. However, each time the family refuses to sacrifice a family member, a huge population of humanity dies. 

Knock at the Cabin

The film starts to deviate from the source material at the halfway point, changing the order of character deaths and how they die. For example, Adriane, who in the books was shot dead by Andrew’s gun, was killed by her associates in the movie. There are plenty of other changes in the film, but they serve the purpose of the story and make sense. Plus, a 100% adaptation would just be boring for readers of the book and it would not be an M. Night film without a couple of twists thrown in there just for funsies too. 

Like other works by M. Night, Knock at the Cabin does have some spiritual/religious undertones to its horror, as seen in Signs and his highly raved Apple TV+ series Servant. Leonard, Adriane, Sabrina and Redmond all talk about their visions as a curse from some great entity who has given them this painful yet important purpose. When it is time to kill one of their associates, they perform a ritual of sorts and the director ensures to include a reflection of bright light, one religious folk often associate with a symbol of holiness, before the gruesome murder takes place. Eric, who is religious, starts talking about seeing a figure in the mirror and believes that this is their true fate and destiny – notwithstanding the fact that he also fell and suffered from a concussion in the first 20 minutes of the film. 

All of this is bullshit to Andrew, a human rights lawyer who believes that Leonard and his associates are either members of a sick cult or that he and his family are a target of homophobia. There’s a constant push and pull throughout the movie and viewers are forced to question their own beliefs especially when more and more of humanity dies and Andrew starts going mad despite his theories of being targeted adding up. 

Knock at the Cabin

Ultimately, we can’t say for sure which ending we prefer as both the book and the movie deliver a pretty solid ending of their own, but Knock at the Cabin leaves with lesser shock or heartache as compared to The Cabin at the End of the World simply because the biggest and most shocking death in the book has been changed. Nonetheless, Knock at the Cabin still provides the same lesson as the novel it adapts – that love is strong. What we do enjoy about Knock at the Cabin though, is that, unlike the book, there is a concrete ending and a sense of resolution. 

Running for 1 hour and 40 minutes, the movie creeps on you with its slow and gentle horror before shocking viewers with brief moments of gore and violence. There are some pacing issues – as with most of M. Night’s films – but the healthy amount of black comedy peppered here and there makes it easier. 

The cast is also a draw to watch the film. Groff and Belridge as gay couple Eric and Andrew are tied up for a big chunk of the movie but are still able to communicate the breakdown and the reconciliation of a relationship just by glancing at each other. Child actress Cui is impressive as Wen, especially since she is the heart of the film and of her family. Grint continues his stint with M. Night after four seasons as Julian in Servant, and his performance here is somewhat similar to his performance in the Apple TV+ series, so there are no complaints there.

Knock at the Cabin is arguably Bautista’s biggest acting role since Guardians of the Galaxy, as this role is the most the actor has spoken in a movie and it gives the 54-year-old a chance to show off his acting chops. Leonard is steady and kind and is the leader of the Four Horsemen. There’s a little bit of a disconnect there, especially if you’re used to seeing Bautista playing rougher roles like Drax, Scott Ward in Army of the Dead, or even Glossu Rabban Harkonnen in Dune – but that’s not to say that Bautista can’t change viewers’ perception. Especially after portraying Duke Cody in Glass Onion, Knock at the Cabin is just another film that proves Bautista has variety as an actor. 

That said, Knock at the Cabin is not without flaws. There’s no easy way to say this but M. Night films are…. M. Night films. Watch a movie of his enough and it becomes predictable, with an over-reliance on a twist when no resolution is in sight. Endings are often rushed too. What would often be a major reveal or a big impactful scene gets squashed to make run time. Thankfully, Knock at the Cabin has The Cabin at the End of the World as a source of inspiration so there aren’t major writing flaws present. 

Knock at the Cabin

M. Night films are also either hits or flops and with the director, there is no telling how audiences will respond here. Unbreakable, Signs and The Sixth Sense were critical hits but Old, Lady in the Water and After Earth earned scathing reviews, and despite the source material, Knock at the Cabin comfortably sits in the center. 

In all, Knock at the Cabin isn’t a horror movie that scares you in the moment with ghosts and demons but rather wraps viewers in paranoia and existentialism. Whether it is in its destiny to be well-loved by fans of horror or the general audience remains to be seen. Either way, Bautista’s acting chops are worth checking out and if ‘end of the world’ apocalypse films are your thing, don’t just knock at the cabin, grab some popcorn and sit in. 



No, we’re not scared of demons or ghosts, but we do fear living in existential dread – that’s one thing M. Night Shyamalan got right in his latest apocalyptic psychological horror, Knock at the Cabin.

  • Story - 7/10
  • Direction - 8/10
  • Characterisation - 6/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 6/10