The novel The Cabin at the End of the World was recently adapted by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan into the film Knock at the Cabin, and while the film was largely faithful to the source material, there were some key changes to the overall experience, namely in regards to the fate of one character and the film’s ending. Author of the novel Paul G. Tremblay recently offered his input on how his story was translated to the big screen, and while he supported both the process and final product, he still prefers his version of the way things turned out. Knock at the Cabin is in theaters now.
WARNING: Major spoilers below for Knock at the Cabin and The Cabin at the End of the World
“There were times where I was tearing up at random things just because, wow, it was right out of the book — and other times I felt like I wanted to run out of the theater,” Tremblay shared with the Los Angeles Times. “But overall, I do like the movie.”
The story sees a group of intruders invading a family’s vacation at a cabin, claiming that they’ve had visions of a global apocalypse. If the family, consisting of two dads and the young girl Wen, makes a sacrifice of a member of their family, they will prevent the apocalypse and save all of humanity. In the book, Wen is accidentally killed in a struggle and the parents end up refusing to make a decision about a sacrifice, while the film sees all three family members survive the invasion, though one father offers himself up as a sacrifice, with the global tragedies seemingly averted.
“I think the movie’s ending is way darker than my book. I don’t mean to say this flippantly,” the author shared. “But politics aside, on a character level, the idea of, ‘What are Andrew and Wen going to do now?’ Not only did they just kill Eric — how will they go on after with that knowledge? — but also with the knowledge that this supreme being that controls the universe was so unremittingly cruel to them? I would never write a sequel to The Cabin at the End of the World, but I’m actually weirdly interested in a story of what Wen and Andrew do now.”
Tremblay went on to describe how he knew that Wen getting killed in his novel would be a major stumbling point for any attempt to bring the concept to life.
“I knew in the first attempt to get it made … financier after financier rejected it because no one wanted to see Wen die onscreen,” Tremblay detailed. “Wen is really the fulcrum to me, in my imagination and in the difference between the two. Although I should say there are two things: Wen, and it not being ambiguous, changes everything.”
He continued, “As a parent, and without the larger political stuff happening with the queer dads, you can sort of understand, if the apocalypse is really happening and you want your child to continue to live, then maybe you can deal with that choice. I don’t want to speak for Night, but I know he was really interested in the choice part. I’m agnostic … he’s coming at it from obviously a different cultural experience than I’ve had, but also a different religious experience. So I am still wrestling with the two different endings.”
Having seen the film twice, Tremblay admitted he’s still attempting to digest the experience, recalling, “I’ve been thinking about it and answering more questions about it. Like I said, I like the movie. I prefer my ending. I hope that would be the case! Even though I had read the screenplay, it’s just so different seeing it onscreen. It was a lot to take in. A fun experience, obviously, but still very, very strange.”
Knock at the Cabin is in theaters now.