Knock at the Cabin (M. Night Shyamalan, 2023, USA/Japan/China)

Does Knock at the Cabin mark M. Night Shyamalan's full redemption as a director? While it is unlikely that the director will ever rise again to the height of his early career trilogy (The Sixth SenseUnbreakableSigns), he seems well on his way to redeeming his mid-career doldrums. As with his other recent successes, Cabin is something of a return to form for the director, stripping away the bloated budgets of his mid-career excesses for a stripped-down thriller. While it is very easy to criticize Shyamalan, one thing you can't deny is that he enjoys the films he makes (maybe a bit too much...). Knock at the Cabin is no exception.

The film has an excellent premise - four strangers arrive at the cabin of a couple and their daughter. Their mission is to have the family kill one of its members to save the world from imminent destruction. The first 30 minutes of the film were taut, and we were fearful that there was no way to go but down. But somehow, the film manages to keep its pacing. While the contained setting could normally grow tiresome, Shyamalan deftly intersperses flashbacks from the couple's life. 

We were expecting a traditional Shyamalan "twist" here, and the film doesn't deliver in this regard. The ending is surprisingly straightforward. Of course, Knock is one of those films that begins to fall apart the more you think about it. The blessing of the film is that it generally doesn't give you time to think. On another subject, the hidden gem of the film is Dave Bautista. He is perhaps the only wrestling star to emerge as a true actor in recent years. His presence dominates the film, and he gives a very solid performance here. Worth watching for Bautista alone.



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