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KNOCK AT THE CABIN Is A Dire Warning
Not with a bang, but a wimper
M. Night Shyamalan is probably the most openly empathetic filmmaker working in Hollywood today. While audiences and critics often lump his work into the catch-all of the fantastic: “genre horror,” Shyamalan seems much more interested in the mundane horrors of life. The fear that comes from the unknown, or loosing a spouse, or having to let your kids walk out into the world everyday. He’s a storyteller who is fascinated by faith and our relationship to each other, and the obligation that stems from those relationships. He understands that we aren’t scared of ghosts or aliens. We’re scared of getting oldand loosing control.
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Which is why, in his newest film KNOCK AT THE CABIN, M. Night Shyamalan has chosen to take on the very notion of mundane fear itself. If you’ve seen any advertising for the film, you probably already know the basic premise; four armed strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint) force a same sex couple (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) and their daughter (Kristen Cui) to decide which member of their family will die in order to save humanity.
On paper, the story is grim retelling of The Binding of Isaac, with each of the four strangers standing in for the four horsemen of the apocalypse.And that sort of a story would make sense for Shyamalan as a director. He’s been very clear in the past that the conflict between his formal education in a Catholic school and his personal life in a strict Hindu household were the crucible that forged his cinematic worldview. But instead, he takes it a step further, putting his signature Shyamalan “fear of the ordinary” twist on it.
Every year, hundreds of children are injured or killed as a result of gun violence in their classroom. Millions of Americans are displaced from their homes every year as the result of natural disaster. The last three years have issued forth a global pandemic, claiming the lives of millions of people and fundamentally changing how we live our lives on this planet. Speaking of which: scientists say there is ample reason to believe that — unless vigorous and inalterable change begins immediately — climate change will end life on Earth.
So, asks KNOCK AT THE CABIN, what would the apocalypse look like if it were on your television tomorrow? Would it even catch your interest? Or would it be just another news day?
That is the central conflict that a master story teller can bring to a horror movie. Where other directors would get caught up in the terrifying home invasion or the strangers’ violent ceremony, Shyamalan focuses his story around the scariest thing of all: the apathy. As the apocalypse slowly unfolds on their TV, Groff and Aldridge are content to ignore it, writing the whole thing off as an orchestrated stunt or, at worst, a bad news day.
Human beings are fundamentally unwilling to accept responsibility or change. That will be our undoing, and M. Night Shyamalan knows it. At the very least, he fears it. Over and over again, the characters in KNOCK AT THE CABIN refuse to acknowledge the plain truth laid out right in front of them: the world is ending and, unless you take swift and immediate action, everyone on the planet will die.
Rather than accept this fact, they demure. In fact, over the course of the film, the couple goes through the entire cycle of grief — finally reaching acceptance by the time the skies get dark and lightning is scorching the earth. By then, it certainly seems to be too little too late. Humanity has been judged, and millions — perhaps billions — have died needlessly.
Thank goodness we live in a world safe from that sort of — entirely avoidable — catastrophe.
Earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, or about 2° F in total. The rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice as fast: 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade
Did you really click the link on this one? Tweet me if you did. I want to know you. You’re too precious for this world.
The colors of their clothes even give this away - White, Red, Black, and Pale
See what I did there? I said twist. Because it’s an article about M. Night.
I’m not doing a link for this one. Not even for your precious freaks who clicked the link on ‘old.’