M. Night Shyamalan’s apocalyptic mystery horror is disappointingly void of both suspense and horror; not to mention the absurdly ambiguous conclusion
In an incredibly disappointing manner, M Night Shyamalan has repeated his pattern. He allures us with a splendid start-off concept and opening scene, only to expose the film later as complete nonsense.
This supposed apocalyptic nightmare, adapted from the 2018 horror bestseller The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, proves to be an unimpressive shaggy dog story with a bizarrely anti-climactic reveal. It is both overblown and negligible; lacking any sort of ingenuity or genuine thrill yet its characters’ motivations remain unclear even within its own parameters.
Much like M. Night Shyamalan’s other outrageous end-of-the-world movie, The Happening from 2008, there is an undeniable thrill that comes with the opening scene: a fantastically written conversation between Dave Bautista and new actress Kristen Cui where she portrays Wen — a Chinese American 8-year-old girl.
In a tranquil wooded area, nestled next to a cabin with two doting gay fathers, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), the child Wen innocently plays alone. Yet out of nowhere appears an intimidating yet lovable figure: Leonard portrayed by Bautista. She quickly befriends him, however, she can’t help but ponder what his intentions may entail.
In a timely manner, Leonard’s three friends, Redmond (Rupert Grint), Ardiane (Abby Quinn) and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), all equipped with peculiar arms, arrive to explain the essential knowledge they possess regarding the future of the universe. With their presence alone comes an urgent call for this small girl and her family — that if they act quickly enough there may still be hope in saving our world from imminent destruction.
Wen, Eric, and Andrew are faced with an unimaginable decision: which of them should sacrifice themselves to save the planet? The family held captive by a cult-like sect appears entranced by their fanatical ideas — yet something in two of these people seems oddly recognizable. Could it be that this seemingly hopeless situation is not without hope after all?
Indeed, this could be accurate. Unfortunately, there is an array of questions that remain unanswered or intentionally left without a resolution in the story. The juxtaposition between logical and irrational explanations for what transpires comes off as typical with very little conclusion to speak of. Director M. Night Shyamalan’s prior work Old displayed his knack for maintaining a concept until its completion; however, not this time around, unfortunately.