Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin

Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin
Reader Rating0 Votes

When I went to see Knock at the Cabin last night, I had really no idea what I was walking into. I hadn’t watched any trailers, I read nothing, I just knew that M. Night was back, and I was going to give him another shot. I wasn’t too thrilled with Shyamalan’s last run at the box office, in that it took a universally loved graphic novel and basically ruined it, with a literal interpretation. But maybe he’d seen the error of his ways? Let’s find out shall we, and let’s get to it – Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin.

A Quick Walk Through of Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin is a closed box thriller that is really simple in its conceit. A married couple headed by Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui), visit a cabin for a respite. While there, four visitors come and announce a warning. They are teacher Leonard (Dave Bautista), nurse Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), chef Adriane (Abby Quinn), and utilities serviceman Redmond (Rupert Grint). The world will end if the members don’t willingly make a sacrifice of one of their family members. The question will be posed to them 4 times… and each time they deny the request, judgement will fall on the planet, and people will die. (Reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode Button, Button when a random person is offered to push a button, if they do, they will receive $200K, but simultaneously, someone will die as a result.)

During the foursome’s break in, Eric is hit in the head, and receives a concussion. But as the foursome introduce themselves to the family, the family learns that their assailants had only just met moments before. They had been having visions of the end of the world (The oceans will rise, a plague will descend, the sky will fall, and finally an unending darkness will blanket the earth)… and of screaming. And they believe they know how to keep the end of the world from happening. If the family doesn’t choose a sacrifice willingly, they will be forced to wander the darkened earth after everyone else has died. Well, obviously, Eric and Andrew do not believe the foursome. Instead, they are pretty certain that this attack is a hate crime because they are gay.

As the predetermine time arrives, the family is given a choice… will they make a sacrifice? And when they say no, they will not… Redmond covers his head, and the now trio, beat him to death with their custom made weapons. During the attack, Eric (who might be suffering the effects of his concussion?) sees a figuring and a shining light in the mirror. After Redmond’s death, the TV shares reports of two different tsunamis, and we watch as a wall of water hits the beach. But the news reports could have been pre-recorded programming. They could have known this was coming. Worse, O’Bannon is recognized by Andrew as the person that attacked him a few years ago in a bar. He’s certain that his last name is O’Bannon. And this is obviously revenge after his going to prison for the crime.

The next morning, Adriane is the next sacrifice as a flu pandemic is unleashed on the TV. First tsunamis, now a flu? What is happening here? Could what they are saying be true? But Andrew is dead set against this line of thinking, it’s all coincidence and it could be piped in faked news videos for all they know. Heck, even if it is real, why would they kill one of their own for a world that hates them? (That is the question of the day.) Andrew escapes and is able to get to the hand gun in his car… and after being hurt by Sabrina, shoots her dead. Leonard, at the pre-appointed time, lops off her head like the rest, and the third plague warning arrives. Planes begin falling out of the sky. 700 of them to be exact.

Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan's Knock at the Cabin - a deep dive into the movie Knock at the Cabin.

It’s at this point that I know that the movie is charting its own territory. We’ll get to the differences between Cabin at the End of the World and Knock at the Door in a minute. But just know, that I could feel that M. Night, with his screenplay here, was going his own path now. We watch as Andrew continues to disprove this all – he finds Redmond’s wallet, and proves that this is the same guy that attacked them in the bar. Hrmm. Weird coincidence. And the planes? What is going on? Andrew knows it all has to be some strange coincidence, or some sort of scary prank.

Leonard asks them to go out back, and he tells them that the time is almost up. He informs the trio that after his death, they will only have minutes in order to decide what they are going to do. Will they perform the sacrifice, thereby saving the world? Or will they walk the post-apocalyptic world, alone, in the darkness together? And then Leonard slashes his throat. Lightening crashes all around them, fires are starting from the strikes. And Eric is now CERTAIN that what they have been saying is real. The four intruders were actually representative of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Eric now just wants Andrew to listen to him… that he isn’t afraid, that he believes that they have been chosen. That through this sacrifice maybe they can save the world. Why? Because the love in their family was pure. And with that, Andrew reluctantly shoots Eric… killing him. And with that, a lightening bolt strikes the cabin, setting it on fire.

Andrew finds Wen in a tree house and they go and get the truck that the assailants came to the cabin in. They head to the nearest town, and they watch on the news as it tells of the cresting disaster that was barreling humanity towards oblivion, and suddenly… it stopped. The world was saved by some unknowable force. And after Wen and Andrew get back in the car, they turn on the radio and Boogie Shoes plays on the radio, reminding them of the time they all three sang and danced in the car previously together on their way to the cabin. The End.

Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan's Knock at the Cabin - a deep dive into the movie Knock at the Cabin.

Knock at the Cabin Reference Material

The movie had unspooled (digital projectors don’t unspool, do they…) maybe 15 minutes worth of the film, when, I had a bit of an out of body experience. I knew, KNEW, what was about to happen next. Why? What was happening here?!? M. Night writes his own stuff, so, …. wait! He didn’t do that with OLD, did he? And I knew that graphic novel in advance. Oh, my gosh! This movie is based on Cabin at the End of the World isn’t it!??! I had listened to the book while driving our family to Maine for a vacation. I loved the book… it was closed box, scary, and mind-alteringly good. The fact that I had no idea it was based on the book sort of blew my mind a bit. But changes were made.

Differences Between Knock at the Cabin and Cabin At the End of the World

In the book, everything up to O’Bannon’s death (the first sacrifice) is basically the same. The gay family, the adopted child, the four visitors. But it’s after O’Bannon’s death that Andrew escapes and is able to get his gun. He then shoots and kills Adriane instead of her willingly sacrificing herself. And it’s during this melee that the biggest change from the book occurs… Wen is shot and accidentally killed. Could it be that the killing of Wen (even if accidentally) would be the sacrifice necessary to save the world? No. Leonard sadly informs the couple that her death was accidental and therefore not the willing sacrifice necessary to save the world.

With only Sabrina and Leonard left, Sabrina kills Leonard, and offers to lead the couple to Redmond’s car and to let them get away. Sabrina tells the two of them that there is still time for them to save the world, and then she shoots herself in the head. With that, Eric, believing what these terrible visitors have come to tell them, thinks about killing himself… but his husband refuses to allow it. Why? Because Eric will not cave to the capricious demands of a god who wouldn’t accept Wen’s death as a good enough sacrifice. And with that, the duo drive away together.

Wait, WHAT? That’s the ending of the book???

Yeah, in the book, the story is ambiguous. Better than that, Paul Tremblay, weighted the evidence for and against this coming apocalypse perfectly. He meticulously gave evidence for what the foursome was doing, and then found ways to discredit it all, step after step after step. It was a master class in perfect ambiguity authorship. It could have been that the apocalypse was real, it could be that they were merely coincidental. But regardless, it really didn’t matter… because Eric and Andrew weren’t going to submit to a god like that. It didn’t matter how “real” the signs were.

Unraveling the Mystery: A Complete Guide to M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin

In some respects, the movie went a lot further than the book. I think anyway. The book only carried out one actual real sacrifice… sort of. Depends on how you count. Maybe two. But in the movie, we get 3 of them. (I will say, watching Knock at the Cabin right after having watched Infinity Pool felt a bit romper-roomish! hahah. The decapitations were only barely referred to, and the heads weren’t carried out or anything. They carry the body, and voila, done.) So, kudos there M. Night? But by going all in on the apocalypse scenario, and definitely saying, definitively, that this couple saved the world, felt a little weird. And yet… by flipping the script, and having a gay couple… who we watched get terrorized and beaten for who they are, save the day felt like a huge step for them. A real sacrifice of non-judgemental love, you know? I think anyway. Seemed like a massive leap anyway. And so I get that. Though, it definitely shifted the tenor of the movie, and the ending. Will say this, utilizing the song on the radio as a cosmic pick me up? Pretty clever solution. Though it didn’t work entirely. But it was a decent go at it anyway.

Personally, gotta say, I adored Dave Bautista’s character. As a human, he was in a horrible jam. Right? The cosmic gods – or forces that be – had thoroughly acquainted him with the proverbial rock, and also the hard place… and said, good luck. We knew that he was a loving teacher… that much was clear. But also, because of that love, he was determined to do what he could to try and save the world. Even if it meant slitting his own throat and hoping for the best after he was gone.

Edited by: CY