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You ever hear the "knock knock" joke about the apocalyptic zealots who force a family of three to murder one of their own? Yeah, it's not very funny, but it makes for one humdinger of a premise in M. Night Shyamalan's new thriller: Knock at the Cabin. With the film less than two months away from hitting theaters everywhere, Universal Pictures released a brand-new trailer on Christmas Day (not a bad present, if you ask us).
We've been watching it on repeat ever since it dropped over the weekend and came away with five major takeaways about the plot, the characters, and the mystery of whether or not the world is actually coming to an end. But of course, this is a Shyamalan movie, so you just know there's a twist coming.
The actual choice presented to the family
Last week, it was reported that Shyamalan and the studio went back and forth on how much they wanted to reveal in the first trailer that dropped online several months back. In the end, they decided to keep things vague for the teaser, but the latest round of footage lays everything out on the table: the family must willingly sacrifice one of their own if the (alleged) apocalypse is to be averted. What’s more: other families throughout history have been presented with the same devastating choice. For every refusal given, something terrible purportedly happens in the outside world, killing thousands of innocent people.
Leonard and his crew seem to have actual proof
Leonard (Dave Bautista) and his crew may not be raving loonies after all — they’ve got actual hard evidence to back up their doomsday claims. After Eric (Ben Aldridge) angrily declares that they’re “not sacrificing anyone,” Leonard casually flips on the television to what appears to be live footage of a colossal tsunami and the poor souls about to be drowned by it. One of the devoted followers, Sabrina (Abby Quinn) watches on in horror and whispers, “It’s really happening” as if her last shred of doubt is about to be washed away by the terrible wall of water. We also learn that she has a young son named Charlie, which adds an unexpected human dimension to these supposed antagonists.
The film is both a mystery and home invasion thriller
While we’re not expecting Knock at the Cabin to go full Home Alone — or even Becky, for that matter — the trailer does hint at some cat and mouse hijinks between the family and the home invaders. Wen (played by newcomer Kristen Cui) is briefly able to escape the cabin with a knife, but doesn’t make it far into the woods before she’s caught by Leonard. “I’m afraid the rule is that no one’s allowed to leave until you choose,” warns the hulking stranger, now holding what looks to be a pitchfork/axe combo weapon.
There's a growing rift between Andrew and Eric
At first, Eric and Andrew (Jonathan Groff) are in total agreement: they won’t give these crazy people what they want under any circumstances and will do whatever it takes to keep their daughter safe. As the trailer progresses, however, a rift of belief seems to open up between the two parents, with Andrew beginning to side with the invaders after an illumination vision. “Do you really think it’s all just a coincidence?” Andrew asks his husband. He’s now standing behind Leonard in a clear indication that the entire dynamic has shifted. “I have to believe that!” Andrew fires back, clearly at his wit’s end. Will he still subscribe to this logic when an airplane falls out of the sky right before his eyes?
Shyamlan returns to his hometown of Philly
You knew it was coming. It just wouldn’t be a true M. Night Shyamalan joint without a scene or two in the director’s hometown of Philadelphia. The dude just can’t help himself! Despite the film’s remote cabin setting, it looks as though we’ll get a few flashbacks to Eric and Andrew’s everyday life together in the City of Brotherly Love when they first brought Wen home as a baby. In addition, we get a brief look at Andrew attending church, further underscoring the movie's overall themes of belief, faith, and the end of days.
Based on Paul Tremblay's award-winning 2018 novel — The Cabin at the End of the World — Knock at the Cabin arrives on the big screen Friday, Feb. 3. In the mood for more high-concept horror? Jordan Peele's Nope is now streaming on Peacock.