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SYFY WIRE Features

Knock at the Cabin's Abby Quinn on What It's Like Being Killed by M. Night Shyamalan

The actress proves that patience is a virtue in landing a big part in Knock at the Cabin.

By Tara Bennett
Knock at the Cabin Trailer

Timing. Sometimes it's works in your favor, and sometimes timing is all about having the patience for it to finally work to your advantage. Actress Abby Quinn ended up experiencing both in playing Adriane, one of the cabin intruders in Knock at the Cabin. Embodying the character meant Quinn had to immerse herself into a woman questioning whether the timing of her visions — happening in tandem with apocalyptic events in the world — are harbingers for the end of the world.

For Quinn, Knock at the Cabin was the culmination of 14 years of auditioning for director M. Night Shyamalan and finally getting cast. "I had just been really hopeful for many years and it was really gratifying to finally see that come to fruition and get to work with him," Quinn tells SYFY WIRE. "This project felt very right for me, and for both of us to be the first thing."

With Knock at the Cabin now streaming exclusively on Peacock, we spoke with Quinn about her assessment of the changes from book to screen, how the actors weathered the intensity of the subject matter and if she's been able to watch her climactic scene yet. 

For More on Knock at the Cabin:
Learn How to Make Weapons For the End of the World in Exclusive Behind the Scenes Look At Knock at the Cabin
Was the world really ending in 'Knock at the Cabin'? Author who inspired film weighs in on ending
How 'Knock at the Cabin's ending changed from the book, 'The Cabin at the End of the World'

Talking The Cabin at the End of the World

Knock at the Cabin UNIVERSAL PRESS

Knock at the Cabin is Night's adaptation of The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, and you've said once you got the part, you dove into the book. How did Night's changes land with you?

Abby Quinn: I read the book right before I was going to meet with [Night], so I didn't know if I had the project or not. I was in Hawaii and so I had to listen to the second half of the book on Audible. And then I got to read the script after I got the the role. It's already a polarizing movie, but to bring the book ending to real life in the movie... I'm sure he could have done it, but I just think it would have been so heartbreaking to see Wen pass away, for her character to die.

And now that I've seen the movie, I think it was seeing [Andrew] and [Wen] come together and they're just sitting in that car. And the flash-forward too, I hadn't seen that until I watched the movie for the first time. With the grown-up Wen moments, I think Night did a beautiful job. It's almost even more heartbreaking that they just have each other, that this kid survived this, and now has to live with this. I think the ending was the biggest, shocking difference for me.

Was that something you all discussed together, those changes that definitely impact the outcome of what your characters all do in that cabin?

As soon as we got to Philly, there was no time. We got there and I went to the office and met the whole cast. Then I met with Night. He's so specific about his scripts and about the characters that he's written, so it almost felt like there was just no time for any deviation from that. We could ask questions within the script. But at that point, it felt like I really had to focus on what is written and what's here, because we only had a week before we are filming and are in the cabin.

Shooting Knock at the Cabin 

Knock at the Cabin (2023)

Let's talk about the cabin. Did the actors adopt a Method approach of staying in character within that set to maintain the tension?

I don't think so, which is really interesting because every actor is different. And ours are so intense so it would make sense for people to feel like they need to go eat lunch alone, or that they need to stay in that zone. But we would get off-set and relax. One day, Dave (Bautista) got us all B-12 shots so this nurse came in when it was two minutes before we're filming this one take. Now, looking back, I don't know how any of us were not breaking character having seen each other two minutes before laughing hysterically. And then, we're having to take each other so seriously. One day we went on a party bus. Night's wife teaches Zumba and the entire cast did the Zumba class. That was Sunday and then Monday, we're filming the end of the world. I think we all just understood what was needed of us.

Your climactic death scene is brutal to watch, but how was it to film? How many takes did you have to do to get it right?

I don't remember much, so maybe that's telling of what was happening on that day because I am foggy. There were so many specific shots of that one scene for me right before I die. There were all of these angles, so I believe we did like four or five takes from each angle. When I put the mask over my head, that was really specific. I was sort of like hyperventilating, and I think we did it like 10 times because we needed to get the hands just right. And then my mascara would get onto the white hood and then we would have to change it, so it came down to all of these technical elements while trying to maintain the emotion. It was like very specific camera movements that dictated how many times we did it.

How did it feel watching the completed scene play out in the finished film?

That's a good question. The first time I was closing my eyes for a lot of it. And then the second time was at the premiere. I was sitting next to my mom, so I was more focused on her. She was not okay, so I was not even watching it that time. I'm still like, "Oh, God, this is a horrifying movie!" as those are really the only two times I've seen it, so it's been this kind of removed feeling now which I feel lucky for. I think it would be really difficult if I still felt like I was in that place. 

Knock at the Cabin is now streaming exclusively on Peacock.

Originally published May 10, 2023.