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Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin -

Shyamalan's latest is a pretty good thriller about the nature of faith. Husbands Eric (Groff) and Andrew (Aldridge) are vacationing in a cabin in the Pennsylvania wilderness with their daughter, Wen (Cui). Without warning, a man named Leonard (Bautista) arrives on their property, talks to Wen as she collects grasshoppers and informs her that he's there to accomplish a very, very important task. It's not long until three more strangers arrive.

The movie's drama comes from whether the intruders are who they say they are or if they have ulterior motives and it does a decent job of maintaining it. I like how it peels the layers of the onion, if you will, such as making you wonder if it's personal, if they're cultists, etc., and it helps that the consequences of the small family's doubt are pretty dire. I have no complaints about the casting: it's nice to see Dave Bautista continue to stretch his muscles - no pun intended - and Jonathan Groff succeeds at making his fear palpable. The movie's tasteful handling of violence, which I especially appreciate due to Wen being only eight years old, is another nice touch.

Unfortunately, there's not quite enough sugar to make the medicine go down. The thrills are ultimately mild, which is a problem when you consider how many good thrillers also occur in confined spaces. It doesn't help that the interspersed flashbacks of the family's origin story are more like commercial interruptions than suspense builders. Shyamalan's dialogue is also as unnatural, stilted and self-conscious as it usually is, and it took me out of the moment more than I would like. I still recommend it, because if anything, the movie succeeds at making you wonder how much it would take you to believe something that is truly extraordinary. Oh, and make sure to always pay close attention to the cabin's TV because you will be rewarded with a good laugh.