On February 3, one of the most interesting and surprising filmmakers in Hollywood returns to theaters, M. Night Shyamalan, director of ‘The Sixth Sense’, The Forest’ and the ‘The Protected’ trilogy. His new proposal, ‘They knock at the door’, confines us between the walls of an isolated cabin in the middle of the forest, where four strangers take a family hostage to force them to make an impossible decision and thus avoid the apocalypse.
Shyamalan has transformed the novel ‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ by Paul Treblay to make it more personal, more his, and he says, talk about the fears that haunt him himself. So, when we sat down with the director during his visit to Madrid, we ask him directly: what scares a master of psychological terror? “It’s all about protection”assures us, “With not being able to protect my family. It’s something that constantly worries me. Everything about their protection worries me. Like any parent, this can haunt you in a bad way.”
‘Knock at the door’ is something like a biblical story set in the present day, a nature that it shares with ‘Servant’, the series that it produces for Apple TV+. In this case, the challenge consisted of constricting a large-scale threat that promises to end the world as we know it to a single environment, a cabin, that the future of all humanity rests on the shoulders of a single family, a family anyone with apparently nothing special, and that we feel that vertigo and that responsibility. “The film deals with that fear that someone will knock on the door any day and your life will never be the same”, says Shyamalan, always on the lookout for “ideas with premises that provoke strong emotions, with which you connect instantly and can’t wait to see how they end.”
Although he has already shot great action scenes in ‘Airbender, the last warrior’ or ‘Glass’, mass suicides in ‘The incident’ and suffocating deaths in ‘Time’, ‘A knock on the door’ is probably the most violent film of his career, even if we don’t see the blood gushing or splashing into the camera: “I think it’s the most effective way to do it. A lot of my movies are rated 18+ first and then I have to hold back a bit, but in this movie the violence is part of the plot, so there was no way to soften it, to not have the rating for adults. But even if I have that qualification, I want to be elegant“.
From darkness to light
If anything characterizes Shyamalan’s cinema (besides his famous plot twists) is the way in which love and fear are intertwined and hope always triumphs. Faith is the driving force behind these stories that seem to be about monsters, ghosts or superheroes, but are, in essence, a reflection on humanity and our society. But why use a genre like thriller or horror to awaken illusion in the public and leave us with a warm heart? “I think we have to face our cynicism and our fears first. It’s the first thing we have to overcome. To love someone you have to get rid of all your fears about that person. You have to forget everything and follow a light irrationally”, the director explains “I believe that the path goes from dark to light and not vice versa. You have to make the path [de la vida] in that sense”. You can see ‘Knock on the door’ exclusively in theaters from February 3.