Knock at the Cabin (2023) Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
A failed, bizarre attempt to reciprocally intertwine the tradition of divine faith with the secular and abstruse political philosophy of postmodernism. At the very least, the creator of the most ludicrous plot twists ever made in the history of cinema, the meandering M. Night Shyamalan justifies the complexities externalized in this psychological thriller with profound motifs that evoke a certain luminosity of subtle wit. The narrative architecture goes like this: A group of strangers come together having coincidentally had the same catastrophic epiphanies about an apparent end of the world. They choose a family composed of two fathers and their adopted daughter, who vacation in a cabin far from the city. The plan is to hold them by force and sacrifice one of them so that the cataclysm of their visions does not materialize; however, this is a decision exclusively for the family, they are the ones who must make the arduous decision of whom to sacrifice. This occurs in a single unit of place, the plot unfolds with stealthy care, intensifying a suspense that originates in situational ambivalence. M. Night Shyamalan deliberately entangles the story with a ramification of provocative themes that are never elucidated, but rather purposefully convoluted.
Strategically, Knock at the Cabin manifests sophistication in its storytelling. Yet I doubt this is anything authentic or solemn enough for the density of its incompatible ideas. There is an ephemeral appeal, the rest is perpetual ineptitude and contemporary rhetoric that feels more like an impulsive sermon than an actual movie. Burlier than ever, the gargantuan Dave Bautista plays one of the conspiracists who abduct this innocent family. Unequivocally, Bautista delivers the most competent and astonishing performance of his ruinous film career; he’s not just great, he helps enormously to hide the dull plot holes typical of a Shyamalan film. The paradox of Knock at the Cabin is that it radically shifts its focus of attention, thus preventing it from having a satisfying denouement; it obnoxiously wants to be a thoughtful film when in reality it’s just another banal product made by a deluded director.
M. Night Shyamalan confuses the influential and resonant biblical story of Abraham, especially the verses of the Binding of Isaac, with a home invasion thriller in a quaint fashion. Between the nerve-wracking extreme close-ups employed with geometrically incorrect camera angles, the transcendent story based on Paul G. Tremblay’s novel forfeits impact and gravitas by doggedly believing that religious metaphor is interchangeable with contemporary sensibilities. The initial conception to shape this thriller is that of a skeptical narrative; as we witness a slow but bloody hecatomb we question the mental sanity of the protagonists, there are no good guys or bad guys, the uncertainty is voracious and merciless. The momentary entertainment of this lies in the perplexity one experiences when watching something that does not know if it is true or false, like the family victim of these strange intruders, there comes a moment where they begin to doubt their own judgment and reality. The thesis of Knock at the Cabin is equivalent to the thesis of religious faith. The incredulous battle the believers. This zigzagging exercise is never resolved, for better or worse. Although, I also strongly feel that this was intentional.
Finally, as expected, M. Night Shyamalan drops the surprises when he loses total control of the drama, it’s his trademark routine that he has reused so many times that it already seems like a joke in very bad taste. He may not have made blatant use of a deus ex machina this time, but his style still remains irritatingly puerile in my eyes. The brutal self-immolation that the characters go through in Knock at the Cabin doesn’t make sense even after the mechanical dramatic resolutions; the emotion and more emphatically the passion should have had a specific genesis and not have an intricate scheme just for the mere purpose of wanting to be an esoteric story. Everything is fine until you realize that the movie is overly gimmicky.