‘Knock at the Cabin’ Ending Explained: Making a Deadly Decision

Does the latest M. Night Shyamalan film have a big twist?

Universal Pictures

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest “Knock at the Cabin” is here and it’s a doozy.

Based on Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World” and a 2019 adaptation that appeared on the Black List by Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman, it stars Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge as the parents of a young adopted girl (Kristen Cui). While visiting their cabin in the secluded Pennsylvania woods, they are visited by four strangers (led by Dave Bautista) with strange weapons who break in and give them a chilling ultimatum: one of the very loving family members must kill another in order to prevent the apocalypse.

At first, the intruders seem like loons (with one possibly connected to a hate crime that befell the couple years earlier) but soon enough an even more chilling scenario emerges: that they were right.

But what about the ending of “Knock at the Cabin,” especially given Shyamalan’s history of executing truly mind-bending twists? Well, we’ll get into it.

Major spoiler warning for “Knock at the Cabin.” If you haven’t seen it yet, turn back now!

First thing first: is the world really ending?

It is.

Is this the twist?

Not really.


Throughout “Knock at the Cabin,” the intruders claim that they each were visited upon by a vision; a vision that is now coming true. They didn’t know each other before they were affected, but they were told where to convene and more importantly, where this family’s cabin was. They had detailed descriptions of how the apocalypse would unfold (planes would fall out of the sky, tsunamis would threaten the cities, etc.) and all of those things are coming true. Still, the two dads aren’t wholly convinced. Bautista keeps looking at his watch, which makes them suspicious that the events that play out on television are pre-recorded. And one of the intruders (played memorably by Rupert Grint) could have been a man that attacked them years before.

Even when the weird stuff starts to occur, it’s not conclusively connected with the drama playing out in the cabin. Until, of course, it is.

Who ends up dying?

Well, the intruders end up dying, one by one, including Bautista who slices his own throat when he thinks that all hope is lost. But Groff says that, in a moment of panic, he saw a figure in a mirror, a beam of light showed him the future and his husband and daughter were older and happy. He knows that the only way he can guarantee this vision coming true is for him to die. (There’s even some uncertainty here because he sustained a head injury and grew up deeply religious.) Finally, they all agree and Groff gets it. So long, Kristoff!

Does his sacrifice actually work?

It does! Aldridge and his daughter escape and drive down to a nearby diner. They sit at the counter and watch the news; planes are landing safely, lightning strikes and fires have ceased, giant waves have returned to the ocean. Whether or not there was an actual connection, we’ll never know. But it certainly seems like it! At the very least the end of the world has been averted … for now.

But what about the twist?

Why do you think there’s a twist?

Well, this is an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

That is true!


If there is a twist, it’s in the family’s realization that Bautista and the gang weren’t regular folks, plucked from obscurity to carry out this deadly mission. They were also the very literal four horsemen (horse-people?) of the apocalypse from the Book of Revelations, which adds a much more biblical layer to the more traditional horror elements of the movie. This is also a marked departure from the original source material, along with another key difference that they thankfully changed.

How does it really end?

We briefly get a glimpse of father and daughter, years in the future. And it is true: they are happy, they are thriving, and they’re probably going to get dinner at a nice place that isn’t too expensive. We are very happy for them.

“Knock at the Cabin” is in theaters now.