M. Night Shyamalan is an extremely ambiguous director. His works combine interesting directorial and script decisions, as well as structural overload, unpleasantly diluted by the desire for shocking (and not entirely necessary) plot twists. As a result, almost all of Shyamalan’s works turn out to be interesting, but not everyone will be able to love them. And this is without mentioning “The Lord of the Elements”, which, it seems, no one liked at all.
As a result, it is advisable to treat all the director’s works with caution and not to overestimate expectations. However, “Knock on the Door” intrigued at the level of its concept. The film is based on the novel “The Cabin at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay, a book praised by Stephen King himself. Whether Shyamalan managed to make a decent adaptation of the book – read in the review below.
Knock at the door / Knock at the Cabin
Genre psychological horror
Director M. Night Shyamalan
In roles Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Jonathan Groff, Abby Quinn, William Ragsdale, Ben Eldridge, Kristen Tsui
Release year 2023
A couple of Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Eldridge) are raising their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Tsui) together. The three of them decide to go on a trip to New Hampshire to relax in a small and secluded country house. But their idyll is interrupted by four strangers who break into the family’s house. Their conditional leader, Leonard (Dave Batista), declares that the world will soon come to an end. And only the voluntary death of someone from Eric, Andrew and Wen can save humanity.
Psychological horror is considered one of the most difficult genres in art. After all, it is impossible to simply use familiar images such as monsters to catch up with fear. Psychological horror should get into the very inside of a person, offer something new and unusual. With the “new and unusual” Shyamalan has always been in complete order, except that he often does not know the measures.
Knocking on the door is exactly the work that has been expected from the director for a long time. In part, this is due to the high-quality primary source, which competently deals with all the selected topics. But it is important to understand that Tremblay himself did not participate in writing the script for the film. The main part of the work fell on the shoulders of Shyamalan.
And he managed to cope with her with dignity. All 100 minutes of the movie keeps you in suspense. This is despite the fact that there is no special dynamics in it. Everything rests exclusively on the relationships of the seven main characters and the intrigue at the heart of the entire scenario, which does not weaken for a minute.
Despite its relative modesty, “Knock on the Door” still feels like a dynamic and ideologically diverse story. She regularly throws up new details and moments that make us doubt the motives of what is happening. But the script never dumps too much information on the viewer.
After all, many horror movies are ruined by the strange desire of their authors to explain what is happening, to put all the strange moments on the shelves. This kills the mystery of the plot and turns the movie from a mystery into a commonplace. There is no such thing in “Knock on the Door”, the main mystery will remain unsolved even after the finale. But the aftertaste of history is all the more pleasant.
Operating on long-familiar themes of family and self-sacrifice, Shyamalan offers to take part in a kind of imaginary experiment about how far you are willing to go for the sake of your loved ones. At the same time, “Knock on the Door” talks about conspiracy theories and the influence of the mass media on the public consciousness. The film shows the formation of a picture of reality through the prism of other people’s words and news, which cannot be verified in any way.
That is, Knocking on the door works on one of its levels as a manifesto. Yes, somewhat simple and even banal (this is not Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum”, which is also about conspiracies, but much larger), but still sincere. Shyamalan this time offers not overly twisted and complex concepts, but emotional humanity in attempts to find warmth in each other.
The acting of all the local stars also helps the main ideas of the film to mature. Each character here turned out to be memorable, their experiences in a stressful situation are believable. I would like to single out Dave Batista, who played, it seems, the most serious role. After “Knock on the Door” he will surely reveal himself to many as a great dramatic actor.
During the production, the film crew did not engage in any unnecessary experiments with staging and other directorial techniques. Picture and sound complement the script here, and the latter always comes first.
However, it is no easy task to adequately adapt a novel to the script of a 100-minute film. But “Knock on the door” coped with it.
an interesting and tense plot; constant intrigue that does not give rest even after the end of the film; interesting statements about modernity sewn into the script; the acting and the chemistry between all the characters
some naivety and banality of certain ideas; the intimacy of what is happening may bore someone
Knocking on the Door is the Shyamalan we need. It is not a perfect movie and it is not a movie for everyone. But before us is a very high-quality psychological horror, which knows very well why we are actually afraid of strangers deep down.