Knock at the Cabin (2023)
February 3, 2023 9:13 AM - Subscribe

While vacationing, a young girl (Kristen Cui) and her dads (Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge) are taken hostage by a band of armed strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint) who demand that the family choose one of themselves to sacrifice to avert the apocalypse.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, Michael Sherman. Based on the novel, The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay.

68% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now playing in theaters. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm seeing this tomorrow morning. I find Shyamalan a tremendously skilled filmmaker whose understanding of story varies from wonderful to woeful, so we will see how he does this time around.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 AM on February 3

There's someone in a community-outreach position at work, and she rounds up all kinds of free entertainment stuff somehow; she got some tickets for a preview screening of this on Tuesday. So I've seen this.

I will keep schtum unless anyone wants to know anything about gore levels or such.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on February 3

Ooh gore level warning would be good then I’ll remove from recent activity till I see it!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:31 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I'm told that the book is very gory and the movie moves nearly all of that off-screen, so much so that there is debate on whether it even counts as horror.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:00 AM on February 3

Confirming that the actual violent acts are far and away mostly either off-screen or blurry and at a distance. I think there's a moment where someone is shot at close range, but it's one of those "a lot of things happening fast at the same time" scenes so it's just a bang and then the victim staggers back; there's no blood or anything.

Although, there IS a bit of a bloody moment where someone's throat is slit - you don't see that (the camera pans down to the victim's abdomen), but you do see a field of red start to stain the front of their shirt from the top down. I think that is the bloodiest thing you actually see on screen, everything else is just implied.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed the book, though I find Tremblay is often a writer whose ideas I like more than their execution. Looking forward to watching this one.
posted by whir at 12:17 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

This was garbage. It doesn’t make sense and the ending is the worst, least interesting of all possible endings. I understand there were departures from the source material, and it sounds like they made this a much worse product.

It’s a real shame because there’s some interesting ideas floating around about the synergistic relationship between online communities and extremism, the role of personal sacrifice in tackling humanity-wide problems, and even homophobia. But the movie doesn’t explore these ideas or even provide a coherent account of its own internal logic (and not in an arty way like Stalker where things are just left unexplained - the characters keep explaining a premise that doesn’t make sense).

There are also some good performances. I wanted to like this movie but any goodwill it generates through those performances or competent filmmaking is utterly destroyed by the idiotic ending.

Shocked this has a 69% on RT.
posted by jeoc at 12:32 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

We saw it today. The two main things I would say are: 1) whatever ranking you would be inclined to give, my guess is it would be 30% better if the trailers didn't give away so much; and 2) the ending would have been way better if there was no clarity at all. Did you save the world or kill the love of your life for nothing? The result of either is undetectable, so... yeah.

I will say that Dave Bautista is fantastic in this in a way I never saw coming. Did not expect to come out of this thinking about the quality of his acting.

I'd give it 3/5... but I have to dock it a half star for all of the trailer spoilers. It was less interesting than Old, for instance, but it held together better. It was less predictable than The Village, but it was not as thematically solid. It's mid-tier Shyamalan... which is to say I was not angry and I did not feel my time was wasted, but I also have a list of complaints.

It's wild how technically gifted he is as a filmmaker, even as his storytelling sense is so erratic.

My guess is that people who stream it later with low expectations will like it better than those of us who went to the theater.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:28 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

My guess is that people who stream it later with low expectations will like it better than those of us who went to the theater.

I may be an anomaly because I saw it for a portion of the gestalt was "woooo, I can splurge on the super-fatty snack stuff at the concessions I usually can't get!" and I was on a high from that.

...I'm at about a 3/5 myself as well, actually. I wasn't familiar with the book, so the places where the book and movie deviate didn't throw me. I wanted to know more about the "forum" Bautista and his crew met on, and more about Rupert Grint's character and his previous run-in with the family; and exactly how this whole "Family sacrifice saves the world" thing worked. Was this a Cabin In The Woods kind of thing that's been going on throughout Earth's existence? Or a one-off? Who's behind that need for a sacrifice, God? Cthulu? Aliens? However, a lot of the questions I chalked up to the book perhaps being a little lacking in those details itself, rather than being Shyamalan's fault.

And yeah, Bautista was a big surprise.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on February 5

Having read the book (and enjoyed it, though it’s not my favorite of Tremblay’s), I was really curious about how the movie would hit my viewing companions who hadn’t. But we all came away feeling essentially the same, that for all the talk of world-ending catastrophe, the stakes did not feel high enough. My theory of why I felt the book was much successful in its aims than the movie was, was that the book blinkers you and leaves less space for your mind to wander and pick apart the weak spots. Agreed that Bautista was a good surprise, though!
posted by quatsch at 7:49 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

The world contains multitudes of course and people routinely defy our expectations about what they should look like, BUT...

Does anyone else find it a little funny that Shyamalan's movies have featured two schoolteachers and they were both ripped, action-hero types? I mean, Dave Bautista and Mark Wahlberg. That's what teachers look like in his head?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:40 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Just watched this and I'm curious what people made of the ending. A review I read described it as "ambiguous". I thought that with Leonard reciting the newsreaders lines, the lightning strikes following the plane crashes, and then everything calming down after the sacrifice, that we were supposed to understand that the prophecy was real.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:53 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

I took it the same way you did and found the movie ending completely unambiguous in a way that (in part) put a massive damper on my enjoyment! The other enjoyment-dampening came from additional plot changes from the book, which I generally don't mind in movie adaptations, but which kind of made me wonder "why bother?" here.
posted by quatsch at 9:33 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I generally like M. Night Shyamalan's movies though he seems to attract a lot of hatred. But after a strong first half I thought this ending was a bit of a disappointment. The obvious twist was that the crazy people would turn out to be right after all, and after the breakout the movie just kind of trudged to that conclusion.

Dave Bautista was great though: just trying. so. hard. to. be. reasonable.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:29 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]

Sat down to watch this the other night, and my companion noped out when things started getting violent about 20m in, so I walked out as well to go watch M night Shyamalan pitch meeting videos instead. After reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, my conclusion was, “what if The Cabin in the Woods but stupid?”
posted by Cogito at 3:26 PM on February 10

But we all came away feeling essentially the same, that for all the talk of world-ending catastrophe, the stakes did not feel high enough.

This was my overall feeling. It did not nearly have enough dramatic tension. To me this is about the safest most sanitized version of the apocalypse I could imagine.Simply the choice of removing the bodies of the "horsemen" after they die is a terrible idea. You want these people to choose to sacrifice themselves to save others LEAVE THE BODIES THERE. Let them look at the cost of refusing to make the choice. Leave the news on so they can't believe this is all "pre-recorded."

I know they couldn't fully embrace the novel, which is a shame, but this was like the Hallmark channel version of the apocalypse.

Tomorrow, I think I shall watch the Rapture (1991) which has a very similar spirit to the book the Cabin At the End of the World.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:28 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

The Rapture is very very different in tone because that film asks: let's assume everything about how the Bible describes the apocalypse is real: are you okay with that? Does that seem okay, morally?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:10 PM on February 14

Mod note: Comment containing spoiler deleted!
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 7:14 AM on March 1

Uh....aren't spoilers ok? I'm so confused now.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:42 PM on March 1

Yeah well I would explain the parallel but apparently I can't because SPOILERS from the source material.I'll just say that had the film hewed closer to the film, my desire to watch the Rapture would make more sense.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:20 PM on March 1

The comment deletion was because the comment spoiled the book "The Cabin at the End of the World" which was the source for the movie, but had a different ending. Someone asked for the comment to be deleted. It's fine to discuss the ending of the movie.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:12 AM on March 2

Yes which is why I said in my follow up comment "I can't because of SPOILERS from the source material" which I thought made it clear I was acknowledging that.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:06 AM on March 2

Anyway, back to THIS movie.....

Rupert Grint was gone in a cough and a spit, wasn't he?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:07 AM on March 2

Shyamalan's movies always seem to have huge plot holes. I blame it on him being writer & director and not getting enough outside advice.

This one's plot hole is that the science-fictional premise is completely unexplained. Who is sending the visions and causing disasters? Makes me think of this 1985 Usenet pre-great-renaming net.religion thread about the Damager God.
posted by larrybob at 4:06 PM on April 4

I feel like this was 3/4 of a good book adaptation and then went off the rails. I'm not mad I watched it though - so if apocalyptic whatever is your thing - it's 3/4 of a good time.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 2:14 PM on April 11

Shyamalan is kind of the original "I'm gonna put in a giant twist near the end whether it makes sense or not" writer. And this is one of the main reasons I dislike him. And I wonder if he may have developed beyond that if people hadn't fallen so hard for 6th Sense.

Who is demanding this is a very good question. I feel from the outset it's pretty heavily hinted that this is the Judeo Christian God. You got the 4 horsemen and some standard signs. It's very revelations-y. And if time wasn't an element, this could have led some to questions like what about Abraham/Isaac? Wasn't the whole point there a loving God SHOULDN'T demand that kind of sacrifice? And if it's not that God, then who is it? In short, whether it's JC God or not why would they ask this? Why would this be considered a legitimate test of humanity's worthwhileness?

I mean again the more I think about it, the more of a mess it is. And the only thing that kept me in it was the strength of the actors who, honestly, deserved a better vehicle. But I can think of worse ways to spend the end of days.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:53 PM on April 11

Who is demanding this is a very good question. I feel from the outset it's pretty heavily hinted that this is the Judeo Christian God. You got the 4 horsemen and some standard signs. ... Why would this be considered a legitimate test of humanity's worthwhileness?

I didn't get the Four Horsemen thing at all. The catastrophes didn't include war or famine. The Horsemen don't try to prevent the apocalypse, nor do they sacrifice themselves as part of bringing it about or preventing it. The only real comparison was that there were four of them, and one is as big as a horse.

Nor was there really anything pointing to any of the various forms of the Bible's God, aside from the causing-disasters part. The deeper we got into the story, the more convinced I was that Shyamalan was doing some combination of his usual "I'm gonna leave some of the Why? unsaid so people will think I'm a deep thinker." and trying really hard not to piss anyone off by saying either "This is that guy from the Bible doing this!" or "No, this is some other infinitely powerful deity, and your puny God can't save the world."
posted by Etrigan at 6:11 PM on April 11

The four horsemen of the apocalypse in Knock At the Cabin explained. Details in costuming indicating the horsemen's identities I can keep going but there is a lot of evidence for them being the horsemen. So it's not just that there are four har har.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:34 PM on April 11

I screwed up. This is the second link which connects costuming to the horsemen.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:52 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

The four horsemen of the apocalypse in Knock At the Cabin explained.

Each of the cultists corresponds to a Horseman except in all the ways they don't, which are intentionally contradictory. I feel like this is just more evidence for my own thesis that Shyamalan wants the story to be juuust enough like familiar apocalypse stories that any observer will agree that their own interpretation is the correct one. It's the cinematic equivalent of those Facebook memes about how to solve 6 ÷ 2(1+2) = ? -- the intent is creating arguments rather than teaching a solvable problem.
posted by Etrigan at 7:57 PM on April 11

I do think the idea of the Horsemen as being victims of apocalypse themselves instead of willing servants of it is actually a really interesting idea. Part of the challenge of making an apocalypse film is originality so I will acknowledge that was definitely an intriguing spin on the concept, which also adds to the horror.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:27 PM on April 11

Who is demanding this is a very good question.

Everyone might be overlooking the grasshoppers that Shyamalan lingered over at the start. Little Wen gathers them into a jar to study them. To a grasshopper, this situation is incomprehensible. To Wen, it's fun! If Wen never explains things to the grasshopper (other than, "no farting in the jar"), then why would the King of All Cosmos bother explaining itself to you?
posted by SPrintF at 1:37 PM on July 29

If the King of the All Cosmos needs something from us, his creations, maybe just send a text instead killing millions? Maybe?
posted by miss-lapin at 4:02 PM on July 29

Well, the King of All Cosmos did send the Prince to fix things.
posted by SPrintF at 5:17 PM on July 29

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