Knock at the Cabin Review

Sunshine causes lingering pain and brief moments of delight in M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin, a dark and grim adaptation of Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel. The filmmaker’s weakest tendencies are present but don’t arise as often in the mostly one space setting. Clunky dialogue and bizarre character choices associated with Shyamalan are kept to a minimum. There’s no rapper bafflingly named Mid-Sized Sedan like in his predecessor Old. The apocalyptic theme is hardly new though it generates a respectable amount of tension.

It also gets to the point in scene one. Leonard (Dave Bautista) may look like a bouncer, but he teaches second grade. We learn this as he introduces himself to seven-year-old Wen (Kristen Cui) while she’s catching grasshoppers outside a vacation property in remote Pennsylvania. Wen is the adopted daughter of her two Dads Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge). Leonard insists on forcefully entering the cabin with three associates all sporting old school weapons. They’re not your typical home invaders: nurse Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and cook Adriane (Abby Quinn) have kind demeanors like Leonard. Only ill-tempered Redmond (Rupert Grint, all grown up from Harry Potter Weasley fame) seems comfortable breaking and entering.

Dad and Dad don’t welcome their presence and they’re tied up. Eric becomes concussed in the process (hence the sunlight hurting him). The quartet explains that the trio face a gut wrenching choice. They must sacrifice a family member in a short period of time. If they don’t, the world’s population will end in a series of catastrophes. Eric, Andrew, and Wen will survive and everyone else will perish. The hostages are understandably skeptical. Their detainers (who claim they’ve all experienced similar visions of devastation) aren’t afraid to display how serious they are. This includes news footage that shows they might be onto something.

The bulk of Cabin is reserved for us deciding whether Leonard and company are telling the truth. We do get flashbacks of Eric and Andrew’s relationship before and after they bring Wen into their lives. They feel somewhat superfluous yet they are fleeting interludes in the appreciatively brisk 100 minutes. Bautista is playing against type. You would think of him as a teacher in a silly comedy where he displays his bulk. This is far from that and his work is restrained in a positive way. All the performance are adequate. Shyamalan’s track record is spotty with child performances. He is responsible for guiding some great ones (think Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense or Spencer Treat Clark in Unbreakable). Cui’s is on the plus side.

I was a captive audience member for much of the stay. As it continued, I found this surprisingly anticlimactic (especially for something about the Earth maybe ending). Shyamalan has resurrected his career by self-financing his pictures and turning a tidy profit. While that’s admirable, he seems limited by the budget considering all that’s occurring outside the cabin. Like a mid-sized sedan, it’s dependable for awhile until it isn’t.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Knock at the Cabin

Nearly a quarter century ago, M. Night Shyamalan’s phenom The Sixth Sense scared up six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director. It didn’t win any, but it established the filmmaker as a force at the box office. His fortunes have certainly ebbed and flowed in the 21st century with financial hits and misses. As far as awards attention, only 2004’s The Village achieved another Academy nod for its score.

Shyamalan’s latest is the apocalyptic thriller Knock at the Cabin with Dave Bautista headlining the cast. Based on Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel, Knock‘s embargo is up today ahead of its Friday release. The results are pretty encouraging with a 71% Rotten Tomatoes score. At the low point in his filmography, he had a string of flops and critical bombs (Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth) that racked up plenty of Golden Raspberry mentions.

Cabin is ahead of Shyamalan’s two predecessors Glass and Old as far as the RT meter. It isn’t as high (77%) as comeback vehicle Split from 2017. While Bautista is being complimented for his performance, I don’t see this being welcomed in any of the Academy races a year from now. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

February 3-5 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Update (02/01): I am adding a title to the top 5 that I previously didn’t have on Monday when I did my initial projections. The Chosen: Season 3 Finale is playing on over 2000 screens. As you may recall, the season premiere grossed nearly $9 million in December out of the gate. I’ll say the finale generates a little more than that and could challenge Avatar for the 3 spot. Changes are reflected below.

The seven-week reign of Avatar: The Way of Water at #1 should end in its 8th outing as February dawns at the box office. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller Knock at the Cabin and the octogenarian comedy 80 for Brady debut and look to place 1-2. My detailed prediction posts on them can be found here:

Beginning with 2017’s Split, Shyamalan experienced a career resurgence that could carry Cabin (generating solid word-of-mouth) to a low to mid 20s start. Getting close to $30 million is not out of the question. That number should be enough to top the charts.

80 for Brady looks to appeal to a female audience and older viewers. A Man Called Otto recently showed the demographic is ready for a return at multiplexes. With a robust marketing campaign and the involvement of Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno, I could absolutely see it over performing. My current mid teens forecast is worth keeping an eye on before Thursday (meaning it could rise).

As mentioned, Avatar: The Way of Water (while remaining above $10M) should finally relinquish its stranglehold in first. Fellow holdovers Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and A Man Called Otto should round out the top five and here’s how I see it looking:

1. Knock at the Cabin

Predicted Gross: $23.6 million

2. 80 for Brady

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million

3. Avatar: The Way of Water

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million

4. The Chosen: Season 3 Finale

Predicted Gross: $11 million

5. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million

6. A Man Called Otto

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

Box Office Results (January 27-29)

Avatar: The Way of Water cruised to a seventh frame atop the charts with $15.9 million (ahead of my $14.3 million take). The domestic haul is $620 million, but the story of the weekend is that it surpassed Star Wars: The Force Awakens to become the fourth largest worldwide grosser in history. That means James Cameron now has three of the top four (with Avatar and Titanic also in the mix).

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was runner-up with $10.4 million, surpassing my $9.2 million prediction. In six weeks, the animated sequel has amassed $140 million.

The surprise of the weekend was Pathaan, a Hindu language action spectacle that I incorrectly had outside the top five. It was third with $6.8 million and $9.4 million since its Wednesday bow. The PTA of nearly $10k was easily the highest on the charts.

A Man Called Otto was fourth with $6.6 million (in line with my $6 million projection) for $45 million overall.

M3GAN rounded out the top five with $6.2 million (I said $5.8 million) as the campy horror tale is approaching nine figures at $82 million.

Finally, Missing was sixth in its sophomore weekend with $5.6 million, a tad above my $5.1 million call. The ten-day total is $17 million (doubling its reported $7 million budget).

Check out my new podcast at the following link:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/movies-at-the-speed-of-speculation/id1668006585

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Knock at the Cabin Box Office Prediction

Universal Pictures is counting on audiences to take a Knock at the Cabin when it debuts February 3rd. The latest film from M. Night Shyamalan, it’s based on the 2018 novel by Paul G. Tremblay. A thriller blending horror elements, Dave Bautista is a believer in the imminent apocalypse holding a family hostage. Costars include Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint.

This looks to be the picture to knock Avatar: The Way of Water off its lengthy perch at #1 and should do so with room to spare. Shyamalan, after a career resurgence that kicked into high gear with Split, is one of the few filmmakers whose name can sell tickets (especially in this genre). This is his first R rated title since 2008’s The Happening. His predecessor Old (2021) opened in the summer of 2021 with just under $17 million.

Cabin, with less competition than Old had, should exceed that starting gross. A take of over $20 million is doable.

Knock at the Cabin opening weekend prediction: $23.6 million

For my 80 for Brady prediction, click here:

January 27-29 Box Office Predictions

2023 has gotten off to a pleasing start at the box office, but the last weekend of January should be rather quiet. Horror pic Fear is slated to be a wide release. I haven’t done an individual prediction post on it because I’ve yet to see a theater count. It would be surprising to see it in the top five. At the moment, I’m thinking it’ll be lucky to reach $2 million.

That means the chart should look very similar to this past frame with Avatar: The Way of Water spending a seventh weekend in first (very likely for the final time with Knock at the Cabin and 80 for Brady on deck). It might be the only feature to make over $10 million as I have dropping in the low to mid 30s for a low teens gross.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (after a great hold in its 5th life) should stay in second during its sixth. Holdovers A Man Called Otto, M3GAN, and Missing (after a slightly better than anticipated debut) appear poised to populate slots 3-5.

Here’s how I see it playing out:

1. Avatar: The Way of Water

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million

2. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Predicted Gross: $9.2 million

3. A Man Called Otto

Predicted Gross: $6 million

4. M3GAN

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

5. Missing

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

Box Office Results (January 20-22)

A six-peat greeted Avatar: The Way of Water with a take of $20.1 million, a bit under my $23.9 million forecast. James Cameron’s sequel crossed the $2 billion mark worldwide and neared $600 million domestically at $598 million.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is showing its multiple lives as it impressed in second with a mere 18% drop. Earning $11.8 million in its fifth outing (I was lower with $8.7 million), the animated follow-up has amassed $126 million.

M3GAN was third in weekend 3 with $9.7 million, on pace with my $9.5 million projection. The campy horror effort hit $73 million.

Missing, the stand-alone sequel to thriller Searching, found some fans in fourth with $9.1 million, surpassing my $6.8 million prediction. Considering the reported $7 million price tag, this should turn a tidy profit.

A Man Called Otto rounded out the top five at $8.8 million (I said $9.3 million). In its second weekend of wide release, it dipped a commendable 31%.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…