Get an in-depth look into M. Night Shyamalan’s 2023 horror film, Knock at the Cabin, with our explanation of the plot and themes!
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M. Night Shyamalan has done it again with A Knock at the Cabin. This metaphysical home invasion drama tasks a family with a complex moral situation that could eventually define the fate of the rest of the world.
In typical Shyamalan fashion, Knock at the Cabin does feature a plot twist – only this time, it surprises the audience due to how literal it is. With such complex themes as the biblical interpretations of the apocalypse and the intricate nature of human morality, Knock at the Cabin can leave its viewers more than a bit perplexed if you’re watching it for the first time.
Let’s take a deep dive into the themes and plot of this gripping thriller as we try to dissect what M. Night Shyamalan has in store for us with Knock at the Cabin.
A Happy Family
The movie begins showing us Andrew, his husband Eric, and their adoptive daughter, Wen, as they go on vacation to a secluded cabin. The family’s idyllic vacation gets cut short when Wen comes across a stranger named Leonard, who says he needs her fathers’ help to stop the coming apocalypse.
Leonard comes with three other strangers into Eric and Andrew’s cabin. They reveal their names are Sabrina, Redmond, Adriane, and Leonard. Then, they drop the bomb: Eric and Andrew have to sacrifice a family member to stop the end of the world.
Understandably, Eric and Andrew doubt the claims of the strangers. Even when they show a TV broadcast showing a megatsunami, Andrew remains adamant that the strangers could have planned the entire thing and that they’re just out there harassing their family due to homophobia.
However, Eric is a bit more open to what the strangers say. Later, when the intruders sacrifice one of their own (Redmond) to unleash a plague, Eric briefly sees a mysterious figure shrouded in light. This event casts further doubt into Eric’s mind, who seems almost convinced that the intruders might be right about the apocalypse.
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As the movie approaches its climax, everything the invaders prophesied has come true. Now, only Leonard remains. The tension in the cabin rises quickly as Andrew and Eric begin to doubt their most rational beliefs.
Knock at the Cabin establishes that the home invaders are this movie’s version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. However, instead of representing possible endings of the world as the biblical ones do, Eric believes that Leonard and his cohorts embody humanity’s positive aspects. That would explain why a new tragedy is unleashed every time one of them dies.
Moments before the world’s fate is sealed, Leonard takes his own life, reiterating that Andrew and Eric must make a sacrifice if they hope to stop what’s coming.
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The Shyamalan™ plot twist this time around is that, as the audience might have accurately predicted, the apocalypse is real. The strangers told the truth the whole time, and now, only minutes remain to save the world.
With everything he’s seen thus far, including the mysterious figure during Redmond’s sacrifice, Eric chooses to become the sacrifice. He convinces Andrew that the only thing he wants is to know that he and Wen will live happily in whatever kind of world they inherit. After a tearful goodbye, Andrew kills Eric, fulfilling the strangers’ prophecy.
Andrew takes Wen to a local diner as the apocalyptic storm surrounding them worsens. However, once they reach the place, a news broadcast reveals that the tragedies that have engulfed the world are suddenly coming to a halt.
It seems that, in the end, not only were the strangers right when they said the end was coming, but Eric’s sacrifice became the reason why the world’s end was narrowly averted.
As for who or what the mysterious figure Eric saw during Redmond’s sacrifice was, that’s a mystery that’s up for the viewers’ interpretation.
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What do you think the ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin means?