10 Movies to Watch if you Like Knock at the Cabin (2023): Manoj Night Shyamalan has been making films for over three decades, and his name is largely associated with the horror genre. However, Shyamalan’s best works subvert the horror conventions and are also layered with emotionally resonant drama. While genuinely terrifying jump-scares and twists are signature elements of Shyamalan’s cinema, his films offer something more (substantial) in the subsequent viewings. He is also a divisive filmmaker whose high-concept ideas, slow-burn narration, and organically designed mise en scene might not work for all. And though a bankable blockbuster filmmaker, Shyamalan also has quite a few appalling ‘misses’ in his oeuvre.

Knock at the Cabin (2023) is Manoj Shyamalan’s fifteenth feature film. It is based on Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel Cabin at the End of the World. It opens with a Chinese-American girl, Wen (Kristen Cui), playing near a cabin in the American countryside. She is vacationing with her two gay dads – Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge). Soon, four strangers – Leonard (Dave Bautista), a gentle giant and school teacher, nurse Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), line cook and young mother Ariadne (Abby Quinn), and Redmond (Rupert Grint) the felon – invade the cabin with deadly makeshift weapons.

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After holding the gay couple and their adopted daughter hostage, the four strangers politely and apologetically present their proposition: the family must choose to sacrifice one of them to prevent the impending apocalypse. The gay couple initially thinks that the invaders are homophobic nutcases with extreme religious views. But soon, it becomes clear that the family’s fight for survival has disastrous wide-reaching implications.

Knock at the Cabin overturns our expectations of the home-invasion thriller sub-genre, spearheaded by the brilliant, evocative performance of Dave Bautista (as Leonard). It has a lot to say about faith, familyhood, love, and our contemporary existential anxieties. At the same time, Knock at the Cabin is an uneven movie with frustratingly unambiguous moments. Nevertheless, the film’s unique premise stimulates our appetite for movies that tackle similar themes, scenarios, and tropes. Now let’s get into the list of movies to watch if you like Knock at the Cabin (in no particular order).

1. Take Shelter (2011)

Movies like Knock at the Cabin 2023 Shyamalan - Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols’ film on the mental unraveling of a working-class family man is framed against a possible apocalyptic scenario. The narrative revolves around Michael Shannon’s Curtis, who is troubled by a series of disturbing apocalyptic visions. In order to protect his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and little daughter Hannah, Curtis starts building a storm shelter in his backyard. Moreover, Curtis’ obsession and inexplicable behavior – akin to Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind – makes him an outcast in his community.

Similar to Knock at the Cabin, Take Shelter takes an intense yet introspective look at the end times. While, like Bautista’s Leonard, Curtis isn’t driven by his visions to commit such extreme actions, Curtis’ slow spiraling down makes us uncomfortable. However, Jeff Nichols maintains more ambiguity in how he treats his protagonist’s belief in the apocalypse scenario. The character is much layered as we are cognizant of Curtis’ family history of mental illness and so on. At the same time, we can sympathize with the man’s desperation to protect his family. Though writer/director Nichols’ surprises us with the final shot, Take Shelter offers us room for interpretation, whereas Shyamalan wraps up his movie with an annoyingly unambiguous climax.

Related to Movies like Knock at the Cabin (2023) – Take Shelter [2011]: An Emotionally Resonant Study of Anxiety and Uncertainty

2. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Movies like Knock at the Cabin 2023_Shyamalan - 10 Cloverfield Lane

Until that wacky ending, Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, like Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin, pushes us to question its captors’ rationale and actions. In the case of 10 Cloverfield Lane, a survivalist named Howard holds a young woman captive in his underground bunker. The woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), was fleeing from her troubled marriage when she met with an accident and woke up in the lair of a strange gun-toting old man. Howard repeatedly tells Michelle that a massive chemical attack has provoked a possible doomsday scenario and made Earth uninhabitable for a period of time.

Furthermore, Howard states that she should be grateful for being saved. Michelle isn’t a subservient captive and considers the intentions of a possible conspiracy nutcase with male savior complex. Knock at the Cabin subverts from the familiar use of threat between captor(s) and the captive(s). Similarly, 10 Cloverfield Lane focuses more on the character’s psyche (and even has some weird humor) rather than concocting a one-dimensional note of intimidation and terror. Ultimately, my complaint with both films is the unambiguous and unexpectedly predictable ending.

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Related to Movies like Knock at the Cabin: 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of The Decade (2010s)

3. The Mist (2007)

Shyamalan_Knock at the Cabin 2023

Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novella, Frank Darabont’s The Mist shares an interesting parallel with Paul Tremblay’s Cabin at the End of the World. It has to do with both the works’ unsettling, provocative endings. However, Shyamalan changed the ending of his film from the book’s original ending. Still, The Mist and Knock at the Cabin look at large-scale disasters leading to an apocalypse through the perception of a few individuals. Biblical connotations are also strewn throughout the narratives. And we are left to wonder about the blurring lines between insanity and dogma.

Nevertheless, King and Darabont take a clear stance while addressing themes of man-made apocalypse and religious fundamentalism.  The world’s end in The Mist isn’t inexplicable like the one in Knock at the Cabin. The film theorizes that a military experiment unknowingly caused an inter-dimensional rift, bringing giant monsters to walk the Earth. A group of people are buying goods at the neighborhood supermarket when the deadly, icky monsters start attacking them. They fortify themselves in the supermarket. But the store-bound microcosm of human society soon creates a calamity that’s more terrifying than the threat of otherworldly monsters.

4. Bug (2006)

Movies like Knock at the Cabin (2023)_Shyamalan - Bug (2006)

William Friedkin’s searing study of serious mental illness is based on Tracy Letts’ 1996 play of the same name. The nuanced performer Michael Shannon, known for bestowing palpable empathy to characters struggling with a broken mind, plays schizophrenic war veteran Peter Evans. Following Bug, Mr. Shannon took a varied and unsentimental approach to portray characters ostracized for their mental instability. This includes his bravura performances in Reservation Road (2008), My Son My Son What Have Ye Done (2009) and Take Shelter (2011).

Friedkin’s Bug chronicles the disturbing predicament of a lonely middle-aged woman named Agnes (Ashley Judd). She is cooped up in a dingy room at a motel in rural Oklahoma. Agnes has lost her son, and the recent release of her abusive ex-husband from prison keeps her in an agitated state. Peter Evans drifts into her life at this vulnerable moment. Their burgeoning romance mixes with their traumatic past to unearth dangerous and deep-seated paranoia.  Bug defies genre categorization, unlike Knock at the Cabin, although both films use their claustrophobic setting in an impressive manner. While Shyamalan’s movie makes us ponder over the truth within the alleged delusions, Bug is a masterful and spine-chilling study of a shared delusional state.

5. It Comes at Night (2017)


Trey Edward Shults’ ambiguously titled and crafted post-apocalyptic horror deals with the themes of paranoia, distrust, and self-preservation. Set in an unspecified future, a mysterious virus nearly annihilates the human race. The film doesn’t offer much information about the infection or the infected. We simply learn that it’s extremely contagious. In such a misery and suspicion-filled world, a family – dad Paul (Joel Edgerton), mom Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), their teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr), and dog Stanley – live in an isolated ramshackle cabin.

Soon, a man named Will breaks into the house. After much deliberation, Paul allows Will’s family (wife and son) to live with them. But after a grievous incident, distrust between the two families escalates, exposing the true horrors humanity is capable of. While It Comes at Night invites individual interpretations of its conflicts and themes, Knock at the Cabin largely spoon-feeds us. Yet, both these films showcase how a person’s morality is rendered malleable at extreme times of self-preservation. Shyamalan’s film also reflects on the other powerful human impulse, i.e., altruism. But Shults’ movie is set in a scenario where the limits of human empathy are exhausted.

Related to Movies like Knock at the Cabin (2023): 20 Most Anxiety-Inducing Movies of the 2010s Decade

6. Pulse (2001)


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Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse (Kairo) is one of the weirdest apocalyptic movies. Part of the J-horror wave, Pulse took the time-hallowed supernatural motifs of Japanese culture with the contemporary collective fears over technological advancement. The film offers a gloomy examination of increasing alienation and loneliness after the emergence of the internet. The narrative has two parallel storylines featuring young people. But the plot essentially revolves around the mystery of people disappearing in Tokyo. The unexplainable paranormal incident is said to be connected to an allegedly haunted website.

While the narrative details are little confounding to describe, the eerie ghostly invasion in the urban landscape has a subliminal effect on us. Unlike Knock at the Cabin, the apocalypse in Pulse doesn’t announce itself in a grand manner through grave news reports. But both these films deal in their own way with the themes of isolation and growing social anxieties. Moreover, Kurosawa’s Pulse also wrestles with an apocalyptic scenario through small-scale character conflicts and revelations.

7. Funny Games (1997)

Funny Games

Shyamalan has revealed that he is inspired by Michael Haneke’s slow pace and static visual frames. Perhaps, both the filmmakers’ works take its time to burrow into our mind, and once it does, the mixture of horror and shock deeply unnerves us. However, the similarities end there, as Haneke is an exceptional filmmaker whose subtle observations on darker aspects of the human condition aren’t dictated by mainstream cinematic conventions. Funny Games is the closest Haneke came to playing up with genre expectations, in this case, the horror of the home invasion. Like the intruders in Knock at the Cabin (2023), smug young villains of Funny Games proceed in a polite manner.

However, the exaggerated politeness is a mere facade for their psychopathic tendencies. A mother, father, and son arrive at their idyllic lakeside vacation cabin. Immediately after their arrival, Paul and Peter – guests of their neighbor (?) – drop in under the pretense of borrowing eggs. Soon, they hold the family hostage and psychologically and physically torture them with sadistic games.  Funny Games is a thought-provoking examination of on-screen violence. While both Funny Games and Knock at the Cabin surprise us with the random nature of the invasion, Haneke’s vision is profound and uniformly bleak.

8. Them (2006)

Them (2006)

David Moreau & Xavier Palud’s French horror thriller Them (Ils) has a fairly standard home invasion plot. At the outset, the narrative elements seem very derivative: a cavernous countryside mansion, where things go bump in the night, a landline phone that incessantly rings with no on the other hand, and so on. Yet, what’s so memorable about ‘Them’ among the slew of home-invasion horror are its well-delivered shocks and clever ending. The narrative revolves around Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), a school teacher, and her boyfriend Lucas (Michael Cohen).

One late night, the couple living in the big country house are terrorized by some strangers. Of course, like every couple in a horror movie, Clem and Lucas do clueless and stupid things that seal their fate. But the cinematography and jump-scares are quite inventive. The titular characters of the French film don’t have any set goals like the bearers of doom in Knock at the Cabin (2023). Nevertheless, the final reveal is more twisted than Shyamalan’s denouement. ‘Them’ is actually less brutal compared to the extreme French wave of horror witnessed through home-invasion films like High Tension (2003) and Inside (2007).

Related to Movies like Knock at the Cabin (2023): The Trip (2021) Review – A Home Invasion Black-Comedy cum Splatter Gorefest

9. Us (2019)

Us 2019 Jordan Peele

Manoj Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin (2023) shares few similarities in terms of tone and execution with Jordan Peele’s idiosyncratic horror-thriller Us. Us’ beloved Wilsons – a middle-class family of four around whom the narrative revolves – are black. What follows is a fascinating play on the home invasion trope. Bad people prowl on the edge of Wilsons’ property. To everyone’s dismay, the WiFi is down. Soon, the Wilsons identify who are the mysterious figures terrorizing them. The intruders are the exact doppelgangers of the Wilson family.

The red jumpsuit-wearing and scissors-carrying bad people emit guttural, agonized sounds that are very creepy. Like Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out (2017), Us carries plenty of satire that peers into the dark underbelly of Americana. However, unlike Shyamalan’s flick, Peele’s Us isn’t very explicit in its messaging. While Peele and Shyamalan upend our notion of home-invasion sub-genre and excel at building tension, the crucial political elements in Peele’s films are profound compared to the relatively conservative motifs in Shyamalan’s oeuvre.

10. Colossal (2016)

Colossal (2016)

Nacho Vigalondo’s oddball indie black comedy is totally different from Knock at the Cabin (2023) in terms of tone, genre, and execution. Yet Colossal also has a madcap premise, where large-scale disasters around the world are tied to a few individuals’ personal responsibilities.  The narrative revolves around Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a magazine writer with a severe drinking problem. Gloria’s constant boozing pushes her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), to throw her out of the Manhattan apartment. She moves to her family home in a small town. After one of her late-night benders, Gloria switches on the TV to see a news report of a kaiju terrorizing the people of Seoul.

If that’s not weird enough, it’s revealed that the giant monster on the TV screen is mimicking Gloria’s nervous tic. Soon, Gloria learns that she has the power to control the kaiju’s movements. But things get nasty when another Godzilla-sized creature emerges. Despite the absurd storyline, Colossal’s allegory is apparent: the colossal collateral damage of a few persons’ actions on a wider community. Perhaps, the emotional terrain of the film isn’t too complex to land its ideas. Yet, this is a unique film about personal demons and apocalyptic fears.

Similar list: 6 Movies To Watch If You Like Infinity Pool (2023)

Knock at the Cabin (2023): IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes

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