While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family choose to avert the apocalypse.
THE GOOD STUFF
David Michael Bautista Jr– Currently, there are three professional wrestlers turned actors that have garnered a lot of attention. Two kinda sorta retired professional wrestlers (Dwayne Johnson and John Cena) have had a lot of high-profile gigs and have garnered a lot of positive attention for the things that they’ve done so far, and rightfully so. Johnson has repeatedly proven that he is the biggest movie star in the world, and John Cena might be a comedic genius given the things he’s been in so far and the way he promotes his films. That being said, it has been proven with this film (if it already hadn’t been demonstrated before) that Dave Bautista is the best actor of the three by light years. It’s actually pretty f****** astonishing to see how much his repertoire has grown.
He is the emotional anchor of this film. Whether or not he can be considered an antagonist is honestly up for debate, but to elaborate on that further would be a little spoilery. This is the year of Dave Bautista, mark my words. This, combined with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3 and the sequel to dune (for which he will have a bigger role), might make him one of the MVPs of 2023
Jonathan Goff and Ben Aldridge– The truly impressive thing about these performers is that when you break it down, about 80% of their performances in this movie are tied up in a chair. This movie deals a lot in extreme close-ups of its actors, and it’s genius casting on Shyamalan’s part to cast some veteran stage actors to play these characters like Goff and Aldridge. As a couple, they have impeccable chemistry in their flashbacks and interactions with their daughter, played by Kristen Cui.
THE BAD STUFF
Pacing– Speaking of the flashbacks that involve Jonathan Goff and Ben Aldridge’s characters, I find that there’s just not enough of them. Sure, these flashbacks happen plenty of times. Still, they don’t stay long enough to have an emotional punch, they barely say anything outside of the prejudice that the couple faces for being gay from multiple people, and worst of all.. they interrupt the pace of the story. I love that this film gets extremely intense all but 5 minutes after the title screen disappears. But the story gets a little bit too flashback happy, which is very disappointing in the long run.
THE UGLY STUFF
The lack of “why”– It’s always a bold decision for a movie to present a sequence of events without explaining why the events happen. The great movies that do this still manage to get the audience to figure out why the series of events is happening. The frustrating movies tend to leave things “open to interpretation.” Sometimes, this is on purpose. It can still be a good movie when this is done on purpose, and there are no clear answers…even though I find it still frustrating.
This movie, however, does it on purpose and does not tie any of its ends together. From the very beginning, you may ask, “why are these specific people chosen to do what they have to do to prevent the Apocalypse?” and “Why was this couple chosen in this location of all the locations in the world to make the choices that they have to make?” Well, many people have made theories so far, and many theories go all over the place.
That, to me, is a sign of things going awry. If it is the point of your movie to have multiple wild theories about what happens, then you’ve done something wrong, IMO.
I’ve often said that Shyamalan deserves more respect than he gets. He’s made a few disastrous cinematic decisions, and for those decisions, a large section of filmgoers will (somewhat justifiably) hate everything that he will ever do. However, I truly believe that consistency needs to be respected and cherished. If you look over Shyamalan’s resume, you will find a lot of solid films. Many original stories can be enjoyed at face value, as this film can. Not every name-brand filmmaker has to innovate the game with every single solitary film that they do.
There’s a reason why this man’s films continue to make money for all these years, even with the cinematic thermonuclear disasters that he’s directed. It’s because audiences know that those disasters don’t come as often as people like to say they do. More often than not, you will leave a Shyamalan film, and you’ll be like…
……and that is certainly the case here.
KNOCK AT THE CABIN is in theaters now.