Like his previous film, Old, M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin is an intriguing, self-contained, efficient thriller – although not nearly as satisfying as it could be. The setup: A family staying at that classic American horror location, the cabin in the woods, is taken hostage by four invaders who’ve had visions of the apocalypse.
To say more would rob the film of some of its surprise, and its ability to keep you questioning what will happen is one of its pleasures – so think twice about listening to the podcast before you see it, because we spoil everything! There’s a lot to like, including its portrayal of a same-sex couple so unremarkable that the characters’ sexuality barely needs addressing (although more affection shown between them would have been welcome) and Dave Bautista’s calm but imposing presence as the leader of the intruders. But it’s so keen to have its sceptical protagonists arguing with what their opponents tell them that it doesn’t explore the dramatic and moral questions it has the opportunity to, and it’s too eager to be tasteful. When even José’s asking for gruesomeness you know you’ve shown too much restraint.
Knock at the Cabin is an interesting and engaging film but rather thin and could do with showing more bravery and style. Worth a look, though.
Reminding José of 1970s auteur exploitation movies and Mike of The Twilight Zone, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old confines its characters, and most of its action, to an isolated beach at a high-class tropical resort. As you might expect with Shyamalan, it’s best seen with little advance knowledge, as the plot twists and turns, revelations throwing previous events into new light.
But we do, indeed, encourage you to see it – it’s perhaps the most entertaining film Shyamalan’s made in some time, and although his dialogue isn’t the finest you’ll ever hear, his camerawork is some of the most interesting. He’s a director who always seeks an interesting or expressive composition, who isn’t satisfied with shot-reverse shot, and his enthusiasm for the image is infectious. Some things could be better – some dramatic moments could be heightened, and it’s a fairly thin film that may not reward a second viewing, when there’s no hope of surprise. But the first viewing is an engrossing one, and we recommend it.
Concluding a trilogy two decades in the making, Glass brings together the characters of 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split in an unconventional superhero showdown. We both enjoyed it, though it’s a bit of a trifle, but it’s enjoyably oddball and features a particularly brilliant performance from James McAvoy. And we appreciate M. Night Shyamalan’s direction, staging and camerawork, which, while occasionally a little stilted and ‘filmmakery’, for want of a better word, is thoughtful and always strives to create interesting and meaningful imagery.
The film feels significantly affected by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s influence on comic book movies and their public acceptance; there are things that Glass does, ways it behaves, that are difficult to imagine having made as much sense prior to that series. Indeed, this trilogy is a universe of sorts, with characters from different films being brought together in a shared world.
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