How M. Night Shyamalan Played With The Audience’s “Twist” Expectations

Knock on the hutIts biggest draw is undoubtedly the fact that it’s another horror-thriller from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan. However, more than two decades since he single-handedly changed audience expectations of cinema with The Sixth Sense, “The Shyamalan Twist” has become something of a gift and a curse for the filmmaker. It’s hard to keep surprising audiences when you’re the person they expect the biggest surprises of all. So how did Shyamalan get over that hurdle in making Knock at the Cabin?

ComicBook.Com got a chance to sit down with M. Night Shyamalan when he was on the junket Knock on the hutthat was one of the first questions we had to ask: how does he still play with audience expectations when we watch one of his films?

“It’s really much more organic than that,” Shyamalan explains. “It’s really every story and the characters involved in that story and trying to make the characters feel some moment of revelation or be shocked or something that gets dark or unexpected for them. So that’s where I come from, more of the experience of the characters But then the audience is supposed to be one-on-one with the characters, so hopefully they often feel what the characters feel.

Knock on the hut star Ben Aldrige wasn’t nearly as humble or analytical as Shyamalan when explaining his experience reading the script: He didn’t need a “twist” given what Shyamalan had in mind for the film:

“It was shocking… He called me and said, ‘I want you to be in the movie. Now you can read the script.’ And until that point I didn’t know what it was about I didn’t know how big the part was, how much Andrew was in it And it was, frankly, shocking because of how violent it is how visceral, the stakes, the premise of this everything. I was like, “We’re going… Sorry, we’re going to do what? Oh, okay. Now they’re going to put white bags on their heads and now we’re going to have to make this choice.” And just thinking, it scared me, intimidated me.”

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan didn’t just keep the actors in the dark with the script of Knock on the hut: he made them feel the mystery and suspense that unfolded even while they were filming the movie:

“The night held everything back for us and I don’t know if that was on purpose or what, but it kind of just unfolded for us,” Aldrige continued. “And because we shot it largely in chronological order, he was able to do that. We could sort of experience it the way the characters did.”

Find out how that approach translates to film when Knock on the hut can be seen in cinemas from Friday.

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