Knock at the Cabin – UHD review

3 Stars There is something wrong with you, with all of you, if you believe this
Knock at the Cabin Review

In Knock at the Cabin a gay couple, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are vacationing with their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) when their picturesque lodge is approached by four strangers.  Led by Leonard (Dave Bautista) and all of them carrying what appear to be homemade weapons fashioned from long handled tools with blades and blunt object attached, the new arrivals announce that they are not there to hurt the family but to help them make a terrible decision: They must decide to sacrifice one of the three in order to prevent a global apocalypse from occurring. Eric and Andrew obviously refuse, but as the siege goes on more evidence is shed that the interlopers might not just be crazy or delusional.

Knock at the Cabin (2023)
Released: 03 Feb 2023
Rated: R
Runtime: 100 min
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Cast: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
Writer(s): Paul Tremblay, M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond
Plot: While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.
IMDB rating: 6.1
MetaScore: 63

Disc Information
Studio: Universal
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 100 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 5/9/2023
MSRP: $47.99

The Production: 3.5/5

M Night Shamalan has made a career out of surprising audiences with twist endings and shifting plots that have viewers re-evaluate the motives and backgrounds of each character. If there is a twist to Knock it is that there really is no twist, all evidence points to “the four horsemen” genuinely believing in their impossible crusade and that they are willing to die to complete their quest.

Standing in their way are a family who have done no wrong, assuming you do not believe that being gay is a sin; and this movie makes clear that Eric and Andrew’s love is their strongest asset and is not in any way the reason for them to be ‘punished’.  They are not being punished at all. They are actually put on a pedestal as avatars of what is good and true in the world  That they love each other so sincerely is what cements how hard their decision could be: They have overcome their families disowning them, they have been beaten up for being gay, and they have resolved the differences between their personalities and worldviews and come through all of these challenges stronger. Their love is true and they have built a lifelong bond made even stronger by their love of and care for Wen. They have navigated a harsh and cruel world with empathy and resolve despite all odds.

But it’s the fundamental difference between them which allows for doubt to creep in: Eric remains true to his faith in god despite whatever his church and family thinks about his lifestyle. Even after almost losing his parents is still a regular church attendee (based on deleted scenes). Andrew however is a man of reason, and has no faith in any deity. And still the two of them have built a life that bridges these differences and is built on mutual respect and a desire to have a family of their own design.

Where the film falls apart is in the breaking point: the religious viewpoint wins out, as it always does in a mainstream film, and the realist has to admit their is a higher power they cannot explain.  Nowhere is any thought as to what kind of crazed lunatic of a god would demand an insane Sophie’s choice to be made by a random family in order to prove mankind’s overall value. It’s an ending that is simultaneously ridiculous, trite, and boring. But hey it must sell, eh? It’s got a feelgood movie ending! Bleh.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

Knock has a duality to its look that I cannot explain.  It’s shot on 35 millimeter with custom lenses that shine for shallow depth of field effects that bring out wild detail including pores and individual hairs. It then balances this with a dreary yellow sheen that knocks almost all of the joy out.  And strangely adds a serious white crush like digital effect, putting elements that are outside the cabin into a murky swirl that must be an attempt to make it feel more claustrophobic.  Why bother using such incredible lenses only to waste it all in post?

Audio: 5/5

The audio is outstanding however, with a vibrant mix that  moves elements across the 3d space.  Friend of HTF Shane Lee has an interesting look at these moves using an Atmos visualizer you can see here:

These elements start immediately with Wen out catching grasshoppers in a field, and continue throughout.  Tho there are only short bursts of action they are handled with exceptional precision.  The deadly tools hit with sickening crushes, and the attack on the cabin itself has terrific foley.  Scenes of mayhem on TV have way more impact than any news show would ever have in real life, which draws you in even further.

And it’s all held together by Herdis Steffansdottir’s spooky bass string heavy soundtrack. This features some of my favorite M Night music since Devil.

And you will never hear Boogie Shoes the same way again.

Special Features: 4/5

  • Deleted Scenes
    • They Need Some Time
    • Going to Church
    • Enjoying the Sun
    • Leonard Explains
  • Chowblaster Infomercial
  • Choosing Wisely: Behind the Scenes of Knock at the Cabin
  • Tools of the Apocalypse – RECOMMENDED
  • Drawing a Picture
  • Kristen Cui Shines a Light

Overall: 3.5/5

I loved the cast (Bautista is excellent as ever), setting, sight and sound of Knock, but the story lost me in giving a free ride into accepting that the “4 horsemen” were right all along.  No examination is ever given as to what their sacrifice means or whether anything really changes other than the sacrifice itself.  The world will never know of it, and it does not appear to have changed the surviving family members in any way.  An I suppose that’s the way it’s always been and I shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s on me for wanting something a bit more nuanced I guess.

Sam is both a moderator and reviewer at Home Theater Forum and is the voice behind Home Theater United, the Home Theater Forum Podcast which he started with cofounder Brian Dobbs. Sam has long advocated modest, best “bang for the buck” theater components and is loving every minute of this golden age of home audio-visual magic. Sam is a software engineer, a former volunteer firefighter, a current planning commissioner, leader of a large board gaming group and the personal servant of two tuxedo cats.

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Malcolm R

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At least there was an attempt at an ending. In the book, I believe:

The daughter is killed accidentally during events at the cabin, so that does not satisfy the need for a voluntary "sacrifice", and the two dads manage to escape and just drive away. So nothing about the situation/plot is resolved at all. The end.
 

JimJasper

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↑↑↑ Exactly why I didn't see this film, based on my hunch after seeing some trailers and skimming reviews, as expected, Sam mentioned: "No examination is ever given as to what their sacrifice means or whether anything really changes other than the sacrifice itself. The world will never know of it, and it does not appear to have changed the surviving family members in any way." ....uuuggh. This result is so cheap, vacant and dumb even if you believe a strange supernatural apocalypse, or deranged cult/ religion instigated this, or none at all. Uggh.

.....once again, the otherwise talented Shamalan has all this wonderful support with a great production team/ budget/ locations/ sets/ actors, yet he creates and kindles grand dissatisfaction. ...proving again, half of his film catalog is enjoyable and half is junk. Shamalan can seem coddled for any and all of his unstringing ideas, surrounded by too many ass-kissing sycophants.

kisser GIF
 
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