‘Knock at the Cabin’ or — A Revolting Hard-On for the American Eschaton?
There’s something deeply distasteful about M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Knock at the Cabin’ (2023) and it’s something that seems to have grown out of the American religious right’s thanatos-driven desire for the end times — “The world is ending but hey, we were right all along. Awesome. Bring on the Apocalypse!” It’s deeply unsettling, metaphysically revolting, theologically moronic and profoundly anti-human especially as it’s functioning under the guise of “entertainment”. God, I hated this movie.
Anyway, a same sex couple and their daughter are holidaying in a remote cabin when four strangers take this family hostage and tell them that unless they are willing to sacrifice a member of their familial unit that the world will end. This raises various questions such as — Is this all a hoax? Will the family fight back? Is this film actually saying Judgement Day is REAL? And, the most baffling question of all — How does M. Night Shyamalan keep getting work?
So while we wait (a lot of this movie is waiting around while people spew visions of metaphysical idiocy interspersed with tiresome violence) to see if the liberal good guys will stand up to the religious fanatics or expose it all as a manipulative game it’s something of a sickening shock when the film reveals that… the crazies were right all along? Er… what?!
This means that it is the rational elements of society that must sacrifice themselves to appease the rabid, deluded extremists in our midst lest God, or whatever/whoever, arbitrarily destroys us all by the use of averagely rendered CGI. Hang on, this is the 21st Century we’re currently living in, right? Christ, even the God of the Old Testament who told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac finally stepped in and said “Whoa! Hold it, mate! I was only joking about killing your son, you idiot!” would find this film a bit too much. Hell, even medieval theologians would be sitting in the cinema and muttering to each other “Crikey, this movie is pretty fucking unenlightened!”
It’s all because there’s a part of the America psyche that’s long had a raging hard-on for the Eschaton which co-exists with its, and Shyamalan’s, tendency to dabble in irrational, anti-scientific, inherently abusive bollocks — i.e. the paranormal, life after death, UFOs, etc. So sure, go ahead and destroy the Earth because we want our beliefs confirmed, despite the fact they’re complete bullshit. It’s an extreme, and seriously frightening, form of narcissism and ‘Knock at the Cabin’ revels in this. What’s even more disconcerting is that although Shyamalan might think he’s created a plea for tolerance and the co-existence of differing views the problem is because there’s zero ambiguity at play here — the end IS coming and that’s that — it is solely down to the atheists to supplicate, and ultimately sacrifice themselves, to a greater power. Now that’s a dangerous, disgusting and obnoxious message.
As with all Shyamalan’s movies the film has the intellectual depth of an infantile children’s playground game (“Do you kill your parents or let the world end? Oh, the dilemma!”) but what’s vastly more insidious is the idea that it is okay, indeed even necessary, to either kill yourself or others for the “greater good”. The only problem with this way of thinking is that it is also the mind-set of another group of people you might’ve heard of: they’re called ‘terrorists’.