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Knock At The Cabin - Everything You Need To Know

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that M. Night Shyamalan is one of the most unique filmmakers in Hollywood today. He's either blowing minds with brilliant films like "The Sixth Sense" and "Split," dividing audiences with controversial titles like "Old" and "Glass," or making absolute bombs like "The Last Airbender." But regardless of the mixed reactions he continues to garner, his films always deserve a watch. From the unique dialogue to the shocking twists, nobody makes 'em like Shyamalan.

And that's especially true for his latest film, titled "Knock at the Cabin." Released on February 3, 2023, the film is based on Paul G. Tremblay's novel, "The Cabin at the End of the World," a dark tale of terrible choices and impending doom. With an impressive cast and a truly twisted plot, it's without a doubt one of the most unique entries in Shyamalan's filmography, and if you want to learn more about his messed-up thriller, read on for everything you need to know about "Knock at the Cabin."

What is the plot of Knock at the Cabin?

While M. Night Shyamalan usually generates original material, he has occasionally adapted other people's works — a la the infamous "Last Airbender" and his beach-based thriller "Old." Similarly, "Knock at the Cabin" is based on a novel by Paul G. Tremblay, "The Cabin at the End of the World." Interestingly, according to CNBC, the fact that "Cabin" is based on Tremblay's book was kept secret for the longest time, presumably to prevent giving away the film's premise before Shyamalan and his producers were ready.

If you want to know the plot, the official logline reads (via Deadline), "A gay couple and their adopted daughter have their cabin invaded by four strangers who take the family captive and tell them that, to prevent the upcoming apocalypse, one of them must be killed by the others." However, there is one huge question that looms over everything — are these four people just crazy, sadistic torturers? Or do they truly possess advanced knowledge of a coming apocalypse? And if so, will this family be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Who stars in Knock at the Cabin?

Without a doubt, the most famous actor involved with "Knock at the Cabin" is Dave Bautista of "Guardians of the Galaxy" fame. The wrestler turned actor stars as Leonard, the hulking yet quiet leader of a group that's forcing a family to make a horrible choice. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about their collaboration, M. Night Shyamalan recounted how Bautista's performance in "Blade Runner 2049" is what drew him to the actor. "I didn't know who he was at that time, and he stuck in my head," Shyamalan explained. "So when this script came, I was like, 'There seems to be the one guy who can play this giant human being and do the stillness.' So I asked Dave."

The remaining three members of Bautista's group are rounded out by Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Birde, and Abby Quinn. Grint, of course, is most famous for playing Ron Weasley in the "Harry Potter" franchise. He's also in Shyamalan's Apple TV+ series "Servant." Amuka-Bird also has previous Shyamalan experience, starring in the director's aging horror flick "Old," as well as projects like "Jupiter Descending," "The Outfit," and "Avenue 5." As for Quinn, she's appeared in TV shows like "Better Call Saul" and movies like 2019's "Little Women."

So who plays the poor family beset by armed cultists? Well, Jonathan Groff of "Mindhunter," "Hamilton," and "The Matrix Resurrections" stars as Andrew. He's taking a trip to the titular cabin with Ben Aldridge of "Pennyworth" and "Fleabag," who plays Andrew's husband, Eric. Their young daughter, Wen, is played by Kristen Cui. This is Cui's first project period, and as Shyamalan is particularly skilled with getting great performances out of young actors (think Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense," Abigail Breslin in "Signs," and Ed Oxenbould in "The Visit"), Cui absolutely steals the show.

Who directed Knock at the Cabin?

M. Night Shyamalan has had quite the interesting run over the past few years. Coming off a stream of serious bombs, the filmmaker resuscitated his career with hits like "Split" and "The Visit" while also offering more controversial titles like "Glass" and "Old." Now, he's brought his unique sensibilities to "Knock at the Cabin," and in the lead-up to the film, he was incredibly excited about venturing down this new, twisted path. Speaking with Total Film, Shyamalan said about the movie, "I'm drawn to things that take genres and bend them in new ways or change genres from what you thought you were watching. The architectural twist is part of the fun." So if you're watching for the first time, expect this home invasion thriller to go in some strange directions, as Shyamalan always has a few dastardly tricks up his proverbial sleeve.

Who wrote Knock at the Cabin?

Generally, M. Night Shyamalan writes all his scripts by himself, putting his unique stamp on the screenplays for movies like "Split," "The Visit," and "The Sixth Sense." And yes, he did indeed work on "Knock at the Cabin," adding his own signature style and tightening things up, getting the script down to less than 100 pages. However, while Shyamalan rewrote the script, he wasn't the one who originally penned the screenplay. 

The first version of "Knock at the Cabin" was written by the duo of Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman. Their script landed on the 2019 Black List (a collection of the most liked unmade movies in Hollywood) before making its way to Shyamalan. The two had another script land on the 2020 Black List, "The Saturday Night Ghost Club," and they've also worked on several films that haven't hit the big screen yet, including Wes Ball's "The Time Runner" and the sci-fi script "Harry's All-Night Hamburgers." Of course, there would be no screenplay without the source material — the novel "The Cabin at the End of the World," written by respected horror author Paul G. Tremblay.

How are critics and audiences responding to Knock at the Cabin?

With a few exceptions that land squarely in "classic" or "disaster" territory, most M. Night Shyamalan movies are pretty divisive, having their fair share of supporters and detractors. For example, take "Old," which split critics right down the middle, resulting in a 50% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. Or, similarly, take "Knock at the Cabin." Based on 239 reviews, the movie currently boasts a 68% critics score, meaning the majority of critics liked the film but with a sizable minority writing scathing reviews.

As for Looper's own Dominic Griffin, he wrote the film has a lot to say about our splintered society in 2023, explaining, "Shyamalan dramatizes the fears inherent to folks living inside their partisan bubbles, to modern society and the media's place within it pushing people apart. He highlights with shrewd clarity the power of belief, not necessarily in a higher power or the lack thereof, but in how objective truth pales in comparison to the immense intensity of emotionally feeling something to be true. But maybe most importantly, he reckons with the way individuality and isolationism have driven many of us from the idea of belonging to a larger community."

Griffin also went on to praise Dave Bautista's performance, a sentiment echoed by many other critics. Also on the positive side of things, New York Magazine critic Bilge Ebiri described "Knock at the Cabin" as "the most exhilarating and wounding film M. Night Shyamalan has made in many, many years." Taking a more middle-of-the-road stance, the Observer's Dylan Roth opined, "The direction shines and the script is obvious — but what else is new?" On the more negative side of things, Adam Graham of Detroit News wrote, "It's just not believable in any way, not as a parable and definitely not as a thriller."

As for audiences, their views of the film lined up pretty closely with that of the critics. The movie currently boasts a 64% approval rating based on 500+ reviews.

How did Knock at the Cabin perform at the box office?

While the tortured souls in "Knock at the Cabin" may or may not prevent the apocalypse, "Knock at the Cabin" did prevent something even more unstoppable from happening. When the M. Night Shyamalan film hit theaters, it grossed $14 million on its opening weekend and became the #1 movie in the U.S. — dethroning "Avatar: The Way of Water" and its reign of box office dominance (via The AV Club). Since then "Knock at the Cabin" has earned a total of $21 million. At the time of this writing, it's the ninth highest-grossing movie of 2023 at the domestic box office, although that's certain to change once the big blockbusters — such as "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" and "The Flash" — make their way to theaters. Still, give "Knock at the Cabin" its due for temporarily putting a halt to James Cameron's incredible unbeaten streak.

What is Knock at the Cabin rated?

While M. Night Shyamalan is a master at creating horror, the filmmaker generally makes movies that can be appreciated by a wide range of ages. Movies like "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," "Signs," and "Split" are all rated PG-13. Up until now, Shyamalan has only had one film that's rated R — "The Happening," a film about plants causing people to commit suicide — and the fact it earned the big bad R played a pretty sizable factor in the film's marketing.

However, "The Happening" needs to move over and make way, as it's no longer Shyamalan's only R-rated movie. "Knock at the Cabin" also boasts an R, for "violence and language" (via MovieWeb). If you've read Paul G. Tremblay's source material, this should come as no surprise. "The Cabin at the End of the World" is an incredibly dark tale. The violence and torture is very disturbing and hits incredibly hard due to the high emotions and higher stakes, with the same being true in Shyamalan's adaptation.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.