M. Night Shyamalan is known for being the master of thrills and chills, and Knock at the Cabin is no exception. Adapted from the book The Cabin at the End of the World, the storyline poses thought-provoking questions with twists and turns around every corner. Knock at the Cabin is another mind-bending journey that challenges your beliefs and keeps you on the edge of your seat, all by masterfully tackling the age-old ethics conundrum known as the Trolley Problem.
The Trolley Problem
For those who are wondering what the trolley problem is, imagine this scenario: you witness a trolley that seemingly has no brakes speeding toward five individuals who are unable to hear or see it. With the flick of a lever, you can divert the trolley’s course and save those five lives; but at the cost of another innocent person’s life. What would you do? Many of you are probably thinking, “Five individual lives far outweigh the life of one person.” Allow me to up the stakes.
Imagine a similar scene: you are standing on a bridge witnessing a trolley rush towards five people, but this time, there is another person standing on the bridge with you. If you push them off the bridge, it will halt the trolley and stop it from killing five people. While the circumstances may differ, the essence of the ethical dilemma remains the same in both scenarios. It invites us to confront the harsh realities of moral decision-making and brings us to the premise of Knock at the Cabin.
The Four Horsemen of Knock at the Cabin
We begin with Wen (Kristen Cui) enjoying her time as she captures crickets in the serene woods near a remote cabin. Her joy is abruptly interrupted by the appearance of Leonard (Dave Bautista) and three strangers. The ominous stranger, posing as a friend, relentlessly interrogates Wen about herself and her family, creating an atmosphere of unease and distrust. Alarmed and fearing for her safety, Wen rushes into the cabin to her fathers, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), who, up until now, are enjoying their peaceful vacation.
A tense encounter follows between Leonard and his accomplices, and the vacationing trio. The four intruders, Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), a nurse from San Diego, Redmond (Rupert Grint), a fiery Irishman from Boston, Adriene (Abby Quinn), a mother and chef, and Leonard, who we learn is a schoolteacher, break into the cabin.
Knock at the Cabin—invasion but with a twist
This is not just another home invasion story. These seemingly ordinary individuals are brought together by a prophecy that leads them to this specific cabin with a shocking purpose. They reveal to Eric and Andrew that one of them must sacrifice a family member in order to save all of humanity. The duo is convinced Leonard and his followers are a part of a suicidal, and homophobic cult.
As they resist the intruders demands, each act of defiance leads to the death of one of the Four Horseman—unleashing chaos on earth. While the story unfolds, the audience and the three captives try to understand their captors’ motives, finding themselves in a race against time.
Shining performances in Knock at the Cabin
It’s important to note that the cast is exceptional, but Dave Bautista delivers a standout performance in Knock at the Cabin. He brings a rich complexity to his character, navigating a range of emotions with ease. Bautista seamlessly balances tough and tender, which makes for a captivating portrayal.
The cinematography is elegantly understated, adding a subtle yet powerful dimension to the visuals that manage to capture the tension and discomfort of the situation. The camera angles are carefully chosen to add to the story, with close-up shots of the characters’ faces heightening the sense of unease for the audience. Because it’s not overly flashy, the cinematography adds an important layer to the story, helping to elevate the film while leaving an impactful impression.
The end of the world as we know it
What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to save all of humanity? Would you be willing to give up the life of a loved one, or would you choose to face a planet in ruins alone but with family by your side? These are not easy questions to answer; the film forces audiences to confront the most malevolent facets of humanity. Through a fascinating exploration of moral dilemmas, Knock at the Cabin delves deep into the psyche, leaving audiences with a powerful message that has a lasting impact.
Knock at the Cabin demonstrates M. Night Shyamalan’s genius to construct intellectually stimulating stories. The trolley problem has been a perpetual philosophical conundrum, yet Shyamalan manages to breathe new life into it with a gripping and stimulating apocalyptic twist. Knock at the Cabin is a must-see for all who are fans of the apocalypse/suspense genre.