Like all the best parables, “Knock at the Cabin” tackles the macrocosm of the apocalypse by presenting a story in a microcosm. Adapting the premise of Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World,” Shyamalan and co-screenwriters Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman keep the events of the film largely confined to a single location, a remote cabin located somewhere in the Pennsylvanian woods. Married couple Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff), along with their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui), have decided to vacation in what appears to be a bucolic, secluded spot.
However, emerging from the woods one afternoon is a gentle, soft-spoken giant of a man, a schoolteacher named Leonard (Dave Bautista), who approaches Wen and admires her grasshopper collection. After attempting to gain Wen’s trust, Leonard’s companions arrive: a nurse named Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), a chef named Adriane (Abby Quinn), and a gas worker named Redmond (Rupert Grint). All carry ominous, homemade weapons, and advance on the cabin. Wen attempts to warn her fathers of the danger, and despite the couple refusing to allow the group’s entry upon knocking, the group invades the cabin by force as the family discovers all communication with the outside world has been cut off.
The group ties the parents to chairs, explaining that they’re the victims of a specific, shared vision of the end of humanity and that these visions have led them to the cabin where they are to continually request that Eric, Andrew, and Wen must make a sacrifice of one of their own lest the apocalypse comes to pass. The group’s sudden arrival, along with their insistence that the family has been chosen at random, is analogous to the unfair inconvenience of life’s many obstacles.