Knock at the Cabin ending explained: Spoilers for M Night Shyamalan movie
M Night Shyamalan's latest thriller is now showing in UK cinemas.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Knock at the Cabin.
Over the last two decades, filmmaker M Night Shyamalan has built up quite the reputation for twist endings.
Shyamalan’s latest thriller Knock at the Cabin continues this trend, delivering a perplexing premise that keeps audiences guessing until the show’s climactic ending.
Based on Paul Tremblay’s horror book The Cabin at the End of the World, the film follows parents Eric (Jonathan Groff, Mindhunter) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge, The Long Call), who are holidaying at an idyllic lakeside cabin in the woods with their daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui).
Disaster strikes, however, when four mysterious strangers invade their cabin and they’re dealt the most horrifying ultimatum imaginable: they must kill either each other or their child in order to prevent the apocalypse.
So, are they lying or do the parents really have to make the sacrifice?
If the high-concept thriller has left you at all confused, read on for everything you need to know about the ending of Knock at the Cabin as well as how it differs from the book. Be warned that full spoilers for the entire movie lie ahead.
Knock at the Cabin ending explained: spoilers for M Night Shyamalan movie
Over the course of the film, the four strangers – Leonard (Dave Bautista), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Adriane (Abby Quinn), and Redmond (Rupert Grint) – attempt to convince Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their eight-year-old daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) that they are telling the truth, showing them news footage of various terrible events that are happening around the world, including outbreaks of serious illness and unexplained plane crashes
At regular intervals, the strangers also begin killing themselves off – first Redmond, then Adriane – claiming that this will temporarily stave off the apocalypse, while Eric and Andrew continue to stall on making their decision.
While Eric becomes somewhat more credulous towards the strangers' theories, Andrew is adamant that it is all a hoax – a feeling exacerbated by the fact that he recognises Redmond as a man who had previously assaulted him in a homophobic attack.
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Despite these more than understandable reservations, as the film goes on it becomes increasingly clear that apocalyptic events really are happening – and eventually, only Leonard is left standing of the four strangers.
In his final act before killing himself, he tells Eric and Andrew that they have one more chance to prevent the apocalypse – there will be a small amount of time after he dies before their time is up. Although Eric and Andrew initially still don't seem entirely convinced, Leonard's death does indeed prompt the sky to immediately darken and Eric has a change of heart.
He tells Andrew that he will sacrifice himself in order to secure a future for their daughter, and so tearfully Andrew goes through with this plan – after he has instructed Wen to go further away and put her headphones on.
Incredibly, the plan seems to work. After Eric dies, the sky almost instantly becomes lighter again and we hear reports on the news that indicate the various catastrophic events around the world have suddenly stopped. In other words, the apocalypse had been real – and Eric's death really had prevented it.
The film ends with Andrew and Wen driving away, safe in the knowledge that they will have a future.
Knock at the Cabin: How does the movie differ from the book ending?
While there might not be a twist in the typical sense of the word, perhaps the real twist here is how different the ending of the film is from that of the book it's based on.
The final act in Tremblay's novel goes in a more or less completely different direction to Shyamalan's film, ending on a far darker note than the movie – something which proved rather divisive with readers.
In the book, Redmond is also the first to die, but things take a turn when Andrew escapes from the cabin to fetch his gun while they are preparing to sacrifice Adriane. In the struggle that follows, Andrew kills Adriane but also accidentally fires the gun at Wen, killing his daughter.
You might think that this would count as the sacrifice needed to prevent the global catastrophe, but Leonard informs a distraught Eric and Andrew that since this death was accidental, it does not count in terms of staving off the apocalypse and therefore one of them still needs to sacrifice themselves.
Wen's death also has a profound effect on Sabrina, who decides to abandon her role and kills Leonard before leading Eric and Andrew into the woods where she gives them the keys to Redmond's car. She then kills herself – reminding them before she does so that they still have the chance to prevent the apocalypse.
Although Eric does briefly consider taking his life in sacrifice, Andrew persuades him against doing so, arguing that even if the apocalypse is real, he has no desire to obey a god that does not accept Wen's death as enough. And so the pair decide against making a sacrifice, instead heading to Redmond's car and pledging to stay together whatever happens.
The novel also leaves it far more ambiguous if the apocalypse really is happening or not, leaving it to the individual reader to decide if the four strangers were telling the truth and the news reports are real, or if it was all for nothing.
Speaking to Digital Spy about why he dramatically changed the climax of the film, Shyamalan explained: "From go, when this book came to me to produce, I felt very strongly that the story can't go the way it was written. It just can't, it can't go that way for me. I have my feelings about that."
He added: "So when the book came back to me and they said, 'Would you be interested?', I said, 'Oh yeah,' because I was so taken with the setup and so I said, 'I am gonna do a different version of this book. I won't call the movie the same, the fans of the book can just have that and then this is a different artist, interpreting it differently.'"
Read more: Knock at the Cabin star: "It's one of the most terrifying things I've read"
Knock at the Cabin is showing now in UK cinemas, while Paul Tremblay's book The Cabin at the End of the World is also available now.
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