M. Night Shyamalan talks us through his Signs-like horror Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin
(Image credit: Universal)

Twisty-turny storyteller M. Night Shyamalan is at it again with Knock At The Cabin, a woods-bound, home-invasion horror movie that morphs into something totally unexpected. In this month's Total Film (opens in new tab), featuring Luther: The Fallen Sun on the cover, the modern-day master of suspense talks us through his process, revealing his secrets... but not those of his WTF movie. Here's a snippet of the conversation – and an exclusive image from the movie.

"Which of my other movies is Knock At The Cabin in the ballpark of? The closest, I think, is Signs, because both movies are confined, to some extent, and they’re both populated by such loveable families at the center of apocalyptic events. I do think that you fall in love with both of those families. You laugh with them, are scared for them. You feel connected.

"You know, the author of the book, Paul Tremblay, wrote it right around the time Trump was elected. He was feeling certain things about the world. It’s really interesting that maybe he wrote it then, and I’m making a different version of the story here. It’s a wonderful discussion that we’re all going to have when you watch the movie. Is humanity worth saving? Are we good? The human experiment – is this working? The story is about a girl [Kristen Cui] and her parents [Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge]. They’re vacationing and they answer the door to four strangers [Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn] who give them a terrible choice to make. I think the things that I’m drawn to when I think of my own ideas, or, in this case, an adaptation, it’s taking genres and then bending them in new ways, or changing genres from what you thought you were watching. That’s the fun of audiences, for me. They come in thinking they’re watching something, and it changes and moves.

"How much do we give away? That is always the conversation as I’m making something, and then when I’m talking to Universal, because they’ve released a lot of my movies recently, the last four or five. The conversation is: 'Hey, these are the things that are for the audience when they go to the movies, and these are the things that you can sell the movie on.'

"There are ‘cards-up’ high-concepts and ‘cards-down’ high-concepts that are in the movie. The ‘cards-down’ high-concepts are for the moviegoing experience. So we have those clear discussions, and even if the marketeers are going, 'Wow, if we took that cards-down thing, and just put it up...' I’ll be like, 'No, no, no. That’s not how we do it. You guys are part of the storytelling.'"

For much more from Shyamalan, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab) when it his newsstands (real and digital) on Thursday, January 12. As well as Knock at the Cabin, the new issue features pieces on Luther: The Fallen Sun, Cocaine Bear, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, The Fabelmans, and much more.

Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Luther: The Fallen Sun covers

(Image credit: Netflix/Total Film)
(opens in new tab)

If you’re a fan, why not subscribe (opens in new tab) so that you never miss an issue? You’ll get the magazine before it’s in shops, and you’ll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, and with our latest offer you can save up to 59% on the cover price. Head to MagazinesDirect (opens in new tab) to find out more (Ts and Cs apply)

Total Film's subscriber offer

(Image credit: Total Film/Netflix/Paramount/Universal)
(opens in new tab)
Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.