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‘Knock at the Cabin’: Puttin on your boogie shoes!

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Spoilers be knockin’ too!

Based on the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, while on vacation at their cabin, a family is terrorized by a quartet of strangers who demand they make an impossible decision in order to avert the world-destroying apocalypse!

This is a strange one, even for Shymalan. The theme of “it’s just not enough” runs rampant throughout the film, whether it be character motivations, resolve, end results, or even proof of what these strangers are espousing. I could excuse the whole apocalypse news non-proof as a matter of faith, which isn’t supposed to be proven as a matter of course, but it’s not as if any of these characters had an actual religious revelation. Just speculation, and a leap of faith, not in any kind of deity, but the potential inherent goodness in humanity, at the very end. And if any of the characters, either Andrew and Eric or the apocalypse crew, had had some kind of massive revelation in that vein, the ending would’ve had a lot more punchy impact. As it was, things just kind of petered out in an exhausted fashion.

So Eric (Jonathon Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) genuinely love each-other, despite parental and societal objections, and personal shortcomings, to the point where they’re ready to have (adopt) a baby together. And Wen (Kristen Cui) truly is a miracle, scarred lip and Asian heritage and all. But the fact remains that our lovely gay couple have to pretend that one of them is the brother of a fictitious wife who mysteriously couldn’t be there on adoption day, otherwise it wouldn’t be allowed at all; Andrew’s parents drove seven hours to meet the love of his life and stayed for all of forty-five excruciating minutes of virtual silence; and then there’s the homophobic trash starting fights at a bar, that ended with Andrew traumatized and determined to defend himself and his love. (One of the few great things about the film is the clear demonstration of an expression, pardon me here: “Just because a man is gay, does not make him a p*ssy.”)

All these experiences had a tendency to have a kind of polarizing effect on Eric and Andrew, who are still together but now seem to have deepened into separate opinions on humanity – Andrew is, to my mind anyway, justifiably angry and wrathful, whereas Eric simply smiles beatifically, like an angel who forgives you no matter what you do, willingly suffering martyrdom or at the very least some massive head trauma, offered up like a sacrifice of love. And hey, speaking of sacrifices ….

None of that has been piecemealed out to the audience as yet, when Wen meets a large disturbing man while out hunting grasshoppers at the cabin. Leonard (Dave Bautista), is the gentle but insistent giant, leader of the quartet come here to present Eric and Andrew’s family with an impossible choice: voluntarily sacrifice someone of our trio, to save the whole world from the apocalypse, end of days, wtfever you want to call it.

With Leonard is a trio of believers, all claiming to have seen the same visions, seeing each-other wear the exact same colors as they invade the cabin, the horrific destruction of the world by fire and flood and plane-death, even the homemade apocalypse avatar weapons, all intent and terrified, but singularly determined. Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) is, or was, a nurse practitioner, and deals violence with one hand while immediately trying to heal it with the other, hence a mightily contradictory character who still resolves to see this through to the end. Adriane (Abby Quinn) is the twitchy, nervously tic-ing line cook, the one who regards serving good food as a form of love and laughs a little too much, like she’s gone insane just by being here, which is about par for this course. And rounding out our foursome is Redmond (Rupert Grint), impatient and jittery and more prone to violence than any of the rest of them, the one who seems eerily familiar in fact, the first to suggest savagery to get Eric and Andrew to cooperate, and the first to die as a consequence.

Time is running out and though Leonard is profusely apologetic, we absolutely must continue with the attempts to save the world, there are rules to be followed, and we only get a few more chances. As if the calamitous news stories about planes falling out of the sky and catastrophic tsunamis consuming coastlines wasn’t enough, every time Eric and Andrew refuse to make a choice, a believer has to die and (another) plague is unleashed upon mankind. Seeing a stranger, fanatic zealot or not, get brutally slain with homemade doomsday weapons after voluntarily dropping to his/her knees and donning a white hood is disturbing, to say the very least. And yet, despite literally shaking in their boots and sobbing like the Niagara, our faithful are here to give it a few more last, desperate goes at saving the whole world!

There’s a general agreement that director Shyamalan’s films have been steadily going downhill since arguably his magnum opus The Sixth Sense, and Knock at the Cabin is no real exception. There isn’t really even any kind of twist or gotcha that Shyamalan’s known for – actual aliens, ghostly supernatural shenanigans, killer plants, centenarian-laced beaches, all of that and more is nowhere to be found in our Cabin. Just a very disquieting sense that two beleaguered gay men forced into being the deciders of the fate of humanity as a whole, to offer up their true, real love as a sacrifice to some seriously sh*tty (and yknow, occasionally murderous) other humans is highly inflammatory and judgmental. Maybe that’s what Shyamalan was going for, who knows? And as always, Shyamalan himself gets a cameo in the film, see if you can spot him!

Save your judgment for the very last scene and catch Knock at the Cabin in theaters now!

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The 8 Episode Series Tries To Encompass A Lot Leaving Fans In A Cliffhanger.

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The 2010 “Avatar: The Last Airbender” movie by M. Night Shyamalan faced criticism for its deviations from the beloved animated series. The film struggled with pacing, casting, and a lackluster script, disappointing fans who cherished the source material. In contrast, the 2024 Netflix series has generated positive buzz for its commitment to diverse casting, adherence to the original storyline, and improved character development. The series seems poised to capture the essence of the animated show, offering a fresh and faithful adaptation that resonates with both new and existing fans.

Even though the Netflix series comes closer to the core ideals of the animated series, I feel it lacks heart. Many scenes barely scratch the surface of the relationships between the characters and the push-and-pull relationship between Aang and Zuko. I will admit the CG versions of Momo and Appa are just so gosh darn cute.

The 8 episode series tries to encompass a lot leaving fans in a cliffhanger. It’s worth a watch and I am hanging on for the next season to be announced.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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