(Photo Credit: Universal Pictures)

(“Knock at the Cabin” trailer courtesy of Universal Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” violates every hood rule when it comes to horror movies or thrillers.

Never talk to strangers.

Never believe a criminal.

Never hesitate to kill an intruder.

But it also violates a “rule” that exists too much in Hollywood, which is to be formulaic, normal and ordinary.

“Knock at the Cabin” is definitely different, and that is meant in a positive way, considering the filmmaker behind it whose only rival in eccentric films is Jordan Peele.

At the onset of “Knock at the Cabin,” every sane adult will feel anxiety rush through their body as young Wen (Kristen Cui in her first IMDB credited movie role) makes friends with the much older stranger, Leonard (Dave Bautista, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”).

Although Wen’s two fathers Eric (Jonathan Groff, “The Matrix Resurrections”) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) have warned her against talking to strangers, there is something calming about Leonard despite his burly appearance.

In “Knock at the Cabin,” Leonard even helps Wen catch more grasshoppers for her growing collection.

But after Leonard gains the trust of the impressionable young Wen, he drops the hammer of reality on the youngster.

In “Knock at the Cabin,” Leonard has brought three of his friends along with him to the woods.

They are there to visit the cabin that Wen, Eric and Andrew are staying at on their vacation to present them with an important proposition.

Although the foursome has brought along weapons, they are not at the cabin to cause the young family any harm, so they say.

They are only there to share some grim news with them.

Therefore, when the foursome knocks on the cabin door it is imperative that Wen persuades her fathers to open the door for the strangers carrying deadly weapons.

What would you do?

Would you trust these strangers when they tell you that they mean you no harm?

Or would you do what any sane person would do and that is to try your best to inflict RBIs (real bad injuries) on them?

Assumptions aside, most people would probably choose the latter.

But what if the reason the foursome showed up at your doorstep wanting to get in is to inform your family that they had the power to save the world?

Would you laugh them off the porch or take them seriously?

Additionally, would you attempt to get them some psychological help because anyone who believes that one family’s decision could result in the apocalypse is clearly experiencing a mental health breakdown?

Regardless of how you would react and how the young family chooses to react, Leonard and his three friends Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird, “Jupiter Ascending”), Ardiane (Abby Quinn, “Little Women”) and Redmond (Rupert Grint) are so serious about the alleged impending apocalypse that they use their weapons and whatever else to break into the cabin house that the family is vacationing in, holding them hostage until the family realizes that they mean business.

In “Knock at the Cabin,” the family must choose to sacrifice the life of one family member to stop the impending apocalypse.

Furthermore, the foursome cannot simply kill a member of the family to stop the end of the world.

The death of one of the family members must come from the hands of another family member.

But is that really why the foursome is down there, or do they have more nefarious motives?

In “Knock at the Cabin,” Andrew believes the foursome came to the woods to get them to hurt each other because of their sexuality.

If the foursome can get Eric or Andrew to hurt each other, they can hurt a homosexual couple without technically lifting a finger against them.

With that scenario, their possible homophobia can be mistaken for simple domestic abuse.

As a result, convincing the family to hurt each other might be a little more difficult than anyone in their right mind would even think.

“Knock at the Cabin” succeeds because it is almost impossible to discern whether Leonard, Sabrina, Ardiane and Redmond are who they say they are.

The foursome does a decent job of explaining who they are and the lives they left behind to deliver this message of doom to the family.

In “Knock at the Cabin,” Shyamalan does an effective job of making the antagonists likable, which makes the family’s decision even harder than it already is.

However, in the back of many moviegoers’ minds will be, are the four friends just hustlers selling wolf tickets?

Real hustlers will tell people anything to get over.

So, believing a criminal can be at one’s own peril.

But in “Knock at the Cabin,” moviegoers will also feel for the protagonists because of their back story of dealing with homophobia while dating and while attempting to become fathers.

And although “Knock at the Cabin” lulls a bit while the family contemplates their dilemma, there is something intriguing about the movie.

“Knock at the Cabin” is not great.

But it is appealing enough to keep people’s interest.

Big and burly Bautista shows his deep and sensitive side.

Furthermore, his cohorts hold up their end of the bargain too.

But the star of “Knock at the Cabin” is the diminutive Cui.

Big things come in small packages, and she gives her bigger co-stars all they can handle in “Knock at the Cabin.”

Although Wen breaks all the rules by entertaining strangers, she gives the intruders hell trying to atone for her mistakes.







Todd A. Smith
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