With every passing film, Manoj Night Shyamalan keeps plunging deeper into the abyss. His latest film Knock On The Cabin is not as drab as his last film Old where everyone suddenly started aging fast at a beach resort that Rekha refuses to visit.
But it is still terrible enough, with its message on homophobia wrapped in an apocalyptic plot that the studio probably wouldn’t have considered without the gay slant.
Eric and Andrew played by Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge, are a comfortable same-sex couple with a very intelligent little daughter Wen played by Kristen Cui who is to this film what young Haley Joel Osment was to The Sixth Sense. Cui is adorable without playing for over-cuteness, and she looks totally as happy with her two fathers.
Breaking into this paradise are four nutcases, one of them played by David Bautista. Since he is the biggest star among the invaders, he gets to live longer than the others.I can’t see Bautista rejoicing over his good fortunes.
By the end of the film,a lot of the cast is dead. This is not as apocalyptic as it sounds, as there are only seven characters in the plot locked together in a cabin. This is clearly a Covid-driven project, a cabin chamber-piece with more life-threatening weapons than characters.
So what are they doing here in this dreadful concoction of prophecy and homophobia? The film is very clearly shot on a shoestring budget .We can clearly make out that all the “forest” around the cabin is painted on props, whenever the characters are inside which is most of the time.
Their conversations are not even half as interesting as they would like them to be, so that we are largely struck in the yawn-der.There is no connect between the characters’ crisis and the audience. They all speak as if they have memorized lines for a function to honour Biden.
Blessedly Shyamalan avoids gruesomeness, which is not to say that Shyamalan serenades subtlety. But he does push for a certain amount of gravity in a plot that grows progressively hard to digest. The idea of the world coming to and so soon after it almost did, is not appealing either as horror or sci-fi. Knock At The Cabin is neither.
The stand-out moments are all in the past when little Wen is seen grooving with her two dads to the sound of ‘Boogie Shoes’, or when the two men go to an orphanage to adopt Wen. What a lovely family they make! Why couldn’t Manoj Shyamalan leave them alone?