May 18, 2024

Like it or not, there is no one who makes films like a writer-director M. Night Shyamalan. His last Play in the Cabin, is no exception. In addition to offer the best performance from the actor Dave Bautista so far, it also sees Shyamalan making significant changes to his source material while maintaining the prevailing sense of dread. Meanwhile Paul Tremblay‘s Cabin at the end of the world has a much better title, Shyamalan captures the spirit of the novel, even if he takes it in his own direction. Although it follows much of the overall narrative structure to begin with, there are many differences by the end Play in the Cabin that the story becomes something different.

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While this may lose some of those who appreciated the novel’s ambiguity, the film retains that in its conclusion as well, even if the path it took to get there is very different. If it wasn’t clear, this piece will break down a lot of differences and completely ruin both stories. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, it’s a good idea to bookmark this page and start now. OK, let’s get started.


Wen doesn’t die

Ben Aldridge as Eric in Knock at the Cabin
Image via Universal Pictures

Where the novel ends in the tragic, unexpected death of young Wen, acted out Play in the Cabin according to Kristen Cui, that doesn’t happen here. This softens the story somewhat as the source material spends an awful lot of time struggling with what they have done to his parents and the unimaginable loss they now face. It wasn’t done on purpose, and instead was the result of a gun accidentally going off in a scuffle, though the result was still devastating for both of them. In the film, Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff) are faced with the very possibility of having to sacrifice one themselves to supposedly save the world, although the loss of their adopted daughter who dies in front of them is unaffected. The film has a similar confrontation with Leonard (Batista), although this one ends up huddled on the back porch unlike Wen dead in the cabin. From there, there are more differences Play in the Cabin takes us through

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Leonard dies by his own hand

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Image via Universal

While the death of all his fellow believers came at the hands of another, that is not the case with Leonard here. In the book, he was killed by another member of his team, who no longer wanted to continue with the mission. In the film, he tries one last time to convince Andrew and Eric to make the sacrifice he believes is necessary to save the world. While this is going on, both parents make sure to send Wen into hiding so that she is safe from any further threats and doesn’t have to witness any more violence that may occur. When Leonard thinks he’s unsuccessful in his last plea to the two men, he proceeds to slit his own throat and dies on the back porch as the two watch. In the book, his death was much more gruesome and full of screams. In Play in the Cabin, is almost calm even though we see the pool of blood on his shirt as the camera moves closer and closer. This then leaves Eric and Andrew alone in the cabin as the world continues to fall.

Erick makes the Sacrifice

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Image via Universal

In the book, after Wen’s sudden death, neither of his parents ends up sacrificing themselves. This is done out of defiance of it all and serves as a complete rejection of any god who would ask for more after having already lost everything. In Play in the CabinHowever, Eric sacrifices himself. She came close to the book, but Andrew managed to pull her out of it. The two then went out into the world, ready to face what might come despite the end. In the film, the two have a similar discussion in the cabin. However, this he does End with Eric’s death. Before that happened, Andrew explained that he was supposed to be with Wen, and we saw a small glimpse of this future where the two of them were happy together even though he was gone. We don’t know if that’s true or just his wishes, though it’s a glimpse further ahead than anything we get in the book. After Eric leaves, Andrew goes to find Wen. The two find a vehicle and head out into the world beyond the cabin, unsure of what they will find there.

Andrew and Wen are left to contemplate this loss

Kristen Cui as Wen in Knock at the Cabin
Image via Universal Pictures

While some have argued that the film is explicit in saying that killing Eric saved the world, it is still left ambiguous as to how the conclusion plays out. After Andrew and Wen leave together, they stumble upon a diner, and see on the news that all the disasters have supposedly stopped. This certainly leaves open the possibility that it might have worked, although it still doesn’t guarantee that his death wasn’t in vain and that this whole thing wouldn’t have happened anyway. When the pair return to their vehicle and the music everyone was listening to as the journey began starts playing, it cuts through any celebratory tones, reminding them of the cost of it all. After sitting in silence, unable to say anything about the pain of what each of them experienced, they begin to go out into the world. It has somewhat mirrored the novel, the bond between two people stands out amid the terrible suffering they have experienced, but knowing that the man they loved has given his life for nothing.

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