Knock at the Cabin Review: Who knew a giant could be so gentle?

Despite a steep threshold between the booms and busts of his career, M. Night Shyamalan has held true to the craft of tension that made him a household name. The 52-year-old director has a knack for pulling the rug out from an audience who is firmly rooted in his stories as they are burrowed in their seats.

As his intricate plots can only go as far as the concepts which give them understanding, Shyamalan’s latest horror-thriller “Knock at the Cabin” leaves as much room for ambiguity as a one-bed Airbnb. Adapted from a 2018 novel titled “The Cabin at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay, the film adheres to its source material by following a family of three as they are faced with a horrible decision.

In the forests of rural Pennsylvania, parents Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathon Groff) lay out on the porch of their remote cabin while their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) tries to catch grasshoppers. Approached by a man with an imposingly large frame, Leonard (Dave Bautista) boasts a charming presence that wins Wen over. After spying three additional visitors – each wielding a weapon of medieval design, his friendliness turns fraught as Wen runs back to her two dads to tattle on the incoming invaders.

Pulled directly from their nature retreat into a home invasion, the cabin is breached and the family is taken hostage. Serving as the spokesman for these so-called apostles of the apocalypse, Leonard breaks the news. Between the trinity of Wen and her two loving fathers, one member must be willingly sacrificed, or the entire world will perish.

A story that fails to achieve the stamp of a Shyamalan trademarked twist, “Knock at the Cabin” becomes barricaded by the prophetic choice which defines it. The rug remains under our feet, but a subplot of homophobic prejudice begins to ask an even deeper question than humanity’s survival.

These message board fanatics have set out to torment a young family, but with flashbacks of societal, parental, and even local disapproval of their homosexual dynamic, the world starts to seem unworthy of salvation. Andrew’s profession as a human rights lawyer coins a layer of microaggression on top of this already grim situation. Not only are they dealing with maniacs, but potential bigots as well.

In defense of their actions – claiming they were led to this cabin by their shared nightmares of the apocalypse and not the homophobic slander the family believes them to hold-the horseman make their case. They have come to save the world, not to oppress a same sex marriage.

Hysteria overcomes the ranks of both parties as the collapse of society becomes a swinging notion as the family is torn between its plausibility. As Andrew jabs at the news being reported on ensuing world disasters, this lodge takeover finds its only voice of reason through the biggest body in the room.

Dave Bautista — who up to this point made a career off his physicality in the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and later as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — sheds his theatric lined skin with the role of Leonard.

Playing a restrained colossi who wields a tier of empathy larger than his muscles, this believer is simply playing dress up. Gagging at the brutality he carries out, a man so tender could only push himself to this point if the world itself was at stake. This is clearly his first apocalypse.

“Knock at the Cabin” only achieves half its thrill, being held up by its discussion on gay bashing heretics encased in a vivid prediction of global cataclysm. A middle of the road performance for Night, this adaptation will be best remembered for the stock it placed in a one man brand.

Bautista has officially stepped foot into the heavyweight ring of dramatic aptitude. His sights now seem to be set on winning the title, or moreover, repaving his legacy of strong man mania with a refined glaze of theatrical storytelling. 

Shyamalan gave him a runway, now let’s see how he takes off.