A strong performance from Dave Bautista can’t save this dull suspense horror movie.
Score: 2 / 5
M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin has an exciting premise. Four strangers break into a cabin and take a family of three hostage. Their demand? That the family must decide which one of them must be sacrificed in order to avoid the apocalypse. To add tension, every time the family says no to this decision, a plague is unleashed on the planet killing thousands to millions. It sounds like a great idea, one that will have a build of tension until it all comes crashing down by the end. Except for a thriller, it’s pretty dull. For a horror movie, it’s not very horror-like. It’s an odd movie that just happens without making a powerful statement.
The problem with this story falls into two things. First, the family taken hostage, for the most part, doesn’t believe anything terrible is happening. At least to the degree that the family itself doesn’t have much conflict of what to do other than trying to get away from their captors. So right there, the more interesting part of this premise is kind of ignored by the protagonists for most of the runtime. It cuts any kind of tension for why this is happening down several notches.
The second issue, the story tries to make it appear that the heroes of this story may in fact be the strangers that kidnapped the family. That they are just as much the victims and are given an impossible task. Except, it’s glossed over because to make the idea of this hostage situation scary, we the viewer aren’t given enough background to really root for them. They are following visions and we are told of the horrors of what they have gone through, but we don’t really get to connect with it. I just felt bad for everyone involved. In the end, the story goes exactly where I was expecting it to go after only the first ten or so minutes of watching. No surprises, no twists, it just ends plainly. That was it? That was my thought by the end.
It’s a shame too because the things around the story are actually pretty great. Dave Bautista continues to show he is an actor actor giving an excellent performance as Leonard, the de facto leader of the strangers. His character has a lot of heart that Bautista is able to convey in looks and gentle deliveries. Everyone in the cast does a great job, elevating this dull script into something with a little more weight. The movie is beautifully shot and edited to give the story what little tension it can build. Everything around the story is great. It’s all the more frustrating now thinking about it after the fact.
Shyamalan has made a career of making movies with twists. Well, this movie reaaaaallllly could have used one. A good or bad twist, at least it would have made for something to talk about. Instead, this movie felt shockingly boring. That is the one kind of twist I never would have imagined.