Why M. Night Shyamalan Used ‘Barely Functional’ Old Equipment To Film Parts Of Knock At The Cabin

“Knock at the Cabin” finds parents Andrew (Jonathan Groff) and Eric (Ben Aldridge) and their young daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) at a remote cabin in need of some serious R&R. Suddenly, four desperate strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint) show up and give them a frightening ultimatum to commit a horrible act to prevent the world from ending.

In Empire Magazine’s January 2023 issue (via Syfy), Shyamalan explained that he is “drawn to older ways of telling stories,” as evidenced by the 1990s-era cameras he used for a majority of the shoot. But for certain flashback sequences, he tracked down equipment that was even older in order to create a visual language that helped convey a sense of dread. “They were barely functional,” he said, speaking of the cameras used for those flashbacks. “At certain focal lengths, [shots] would become out of focus. All of those imperfections are part of it.”

The decision to use potentially problematic older equipment shows the commitment Shyamalan had to try and give “Knock at the Cabin” a unique look that will hopefully stand out and be noticeable enough for audiences to feel more transported. Personally, I can’t see a huge difference in the film’s appearance based solely on the trailer, but hopefully it will be visible on a full-size movie screen.

The whole point of doing this was to create the look of “a dark fairy tale,” according to the director, who has a tendency to let his imagination run wild (see “Lady in the Water” for confirmation). “I love telling dark stories and I’m going to guide you through some really horrific things, but you can feel the narrator believes in humanity,” he said. 

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