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'Knock at the Cabin' reviews hail Shyamalan's latest and Bautista's finest performance to date
Make the choice: See Knock at the Cabin in theaters this weekend!
In a recent behind-the-scenes featurette dedicated to the production of Knock at the Cabin (out in theaters everywhere this Friday), Dave Bautista describes his turn as the imposing yet soft-spoken Leonard as a role he's been waiting to play for years.
"It's to prove myself, it's to prove my worth," explains the professional wrestler turned actor, who first exploded onto the blockbuster scene with Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy.
According to the first reviews for Knock at the Cabin, Bautista has most definitely come into his own as a dramatic player in M. Night Shyamalan's apocalyptic mystery-thriller based on Paul Tremblay's award-winning novel from 2018, The Cabin at the End of the World. Critics seem to be in agreement that Leonard is the most interesting character onscreen: a gentle giant profoundly tortured by the unthinkable choice he must present before an innocent family trying to vacation in the middle of nowhere.
Directed by Shyamalan — who shares screenplay credit with Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman — the claustrophobic film co-stars Jonathan Groff (Eric), Ben Aldridge (Andrew), Kristen Cui (Wen), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Sabrina), Abby Quinn (Adriane), and Rupert Grint (Redmond).
Head below to see what critics are saying...
"In the grand tradition of Shyamalan, Knock at the Cabin will likely be a divisive film. But it’s also undoubtedly one of his tightest and most cleanly executed — something made all the more impressive by how much it departs from the novel. Old fans and Servant-heads alike know that M. Night Shyamalan never really left, but Knock at the Cabin feels like it just might convince those not in the know that he’s back." -Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge
"Narratively, it’s a big swing with heady themes that Shyamalan mostly pulls off, even leaning into hope with a story that could veer super-duper bleak. Like his last film, Old, Cabin is an adaptation of existing material rather than one of his earlier original stories. That said, it still compares well with his twisty greatest hits, like Unbreakable and Signs." -Brian Truitt, USA Today
"If there’s one thing M. Night Shyamalan is great at, it’s keeping the audience guessing. Shyamalan’s best films almost always center on some big mystery, or reveal by the end that it was a mystery all along. To that end, his new film Knock at the Cabin is right in the filmmaker’s wheelhouse. The film succinctly and provocatively sets up a fascinating mystery that unravels and unfolds until the very last scene." -Germain Lussier, i09
"Shyamalan smartly infuses humor and pathos into the story, giving the thriller a rich texture. But with his brawny frame and undeniable screen presence, Dave Bautista shoulders this group and the film itself in what might be the best performance in his career to date ... Through it all, Leonard's soft, ardent heart sets the tone of this film, begging the audience patiently but persistently to hear him out." -Kristy Puchko, Mashable
"The role of Leonard is perfectly suited to the wrestler-turned-actor. As a fundamentally sympathetic antagonist, Bautista digs deeper into the timid sincerity and striking naivete already present in his Guardians of the Galaxy role. In this way, you can see him as a kindred spirit to Shyamalan. Released from the burden of expectation, both actor and director find their power. As a result, Knock at the Cabin does, too." -Clarisse Loughery, The Independent
"Leonard’s words feel rehearsed because they are, his actions are practiced because he did. And despite the limitations of the character, Bautista manages to convey deep empathy and sadness with every word he utters; it feels like his short, heartbreaking scene in Blade Runner 2049 turned up to 11. This is a man given a terrible burden he wouldn’t wish on anyone, and Bautista sells that." -Hoa-Tran Bui, Inverse
"Shyamalan’s adoration for the dads and their sweetly introverted daughter is evidenced by scenes of genuine tenderness, and Groff’s performance is especially moving. But those touches also make the film’s final act all the more wrenching; it’s suffused with disaster and entirely devoid of winks to the camera." -David Sims, The Atlantic
"Bautista is terrific as Leonard, a schoolteacher who realizes the horrendous impact he’s having on this family, but knows not doing this will only make things worse ... This might be Bautista’s finest role yet, a performance that shows the depth of emotion he can pull off in every scene, a gentle giant that struggles with his choices throughout this story, but knowing that he's committing a necessary evil." -Rossy Bonaime, Collider
"The secluded location and home invasion setup might be old as the hills but that’s the extent to which Knock At The Cabin agrees to play by standard rules. This isn’t a horror that trades in shock and gore, adopting instead a deceptively soft, almost gentle air as it lays out the boundless monstrosity of the family’s quandary. The bursts of savage violence, when they come, are potent but never lurid, relying on psychological wounds over splatter to make their point." -James Dyer, Empire
"Shyamalan wrestles his existential crisis to a standstill, just enough to let a few rays of sunshine pierce the darkness. It’s one’s faith in the folks who share this big blue marble, not fanaticism, that’s potentially on the chopping block here. The jury’s still out on whether the human race has enough humanity left to keep it together. But, Shyamalan suggests, that doesn’t mean you can give up hope." -David Fear, Rolling Stone
"Shyamalan incredibly uses shock and awe in highly creative and effective ways. At times it is genuinely breathtaking, and it never feels like a cop-out or gimmick. The filmmaker’s direction, Jarin Blaschke’s atmospheric cinematography, and Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s intense score create a heady, intoxicating, and often disorientating environment that envelopes the viewer. A challenging and confident vision, it is the director’s most engaging and authentic work in years." -Simon Thompson, The Playlist
Knock at the Cabin opens in theaters everywhere this Friday — Feb. 3.