When M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie, you better believe it will start a heated conversation within the film community. Shyamalan is one of the few living filmmakers who can attract an audience based on his name alone. His films have become synonymous with supernatural elements and twist endings. With massive hits like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and Split, Shyamalan’s films have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide.
His latest venture is Knock at the Cabin, a psychological thriller with apocalyptic stakes based on the 2018 novel by Paul G. Tremblay. In it two parents and their young daughter head to a remote cabin for a vacation. Their cabin is overrun by four strangers, who hold the family hostage, demanding they sacrifice one of their own to avoid the apocalypse. The film stars Dave Bautista as the lead intruder and Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge as the two parents. If you’re looking for more thrillers like Knock at the Cabin, check out the list below.
Because the list is inspired by Knock at the Cabin, it wouldn’t feel right without including another movie by Shyamalan. We’re going with the film that turned him into an international sensation, The Sixth Sense. In the psychological thriller, Haley Joel Osment is a young boy named Cole who sees ghosts. These ghosts have unresolved problems from their time on Earth and seek Cole’s help to rectify these situations.
The only person Cole tells about his secret is child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who encourages Cole to use his gift for good. Thanks in part to the “I see dead people” line and the twist ending, The Sixth Sense has reached iconic status. The second-highest-grossing film of 1999, the film was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Shyamalan.
“Found-footage horror” was not new in 1999, but its popularity skyrocketed thanks to The Blair Witch Project. Set in 1994, three students — Heather, Mike, and Josh — hike the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland, to film a documentary about the legend of a local murderer called The Blair Witch. The students interview local townspeople about the murderer, with many of them warning the students to stay away from the topic.
The students proceed and eventually lose their way in the woods, setting off a series of supernatural events with tragic consequences. The students go missing, but their (fictional) footage is found, discovered, and presented in the movie. The Blair Witch Project became a massive hit, grossing nearly $250 million on a budget of less than $1 million, and ignited the found-footage revival in horror.
Cabins never seem to be a safe place in horror films, and the featured cabin in The Cabin in the Woods is no different. Five college students head to a remote cabin for a weekend vacation. Unbeknownst to them, the cabin is monitored and controlled by two engineers in a lab (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford), who turn it into a house of horrors. The engineers release ghouls and monsters to stalk and kill the students, who serve as sacrifices for a sacred ritual.
When the students become aware of the cabin’s secrets, they try to fight back and eventually discover the underground facility that’s calling all of the shots. The Cabin in the Woods is a fresh take on the horror comedy that incorporates gore and satire to poke fun at horror stereotypes.
Green Room is equally terrifying as it is thrilling. Like Knock at the Cabin, Green Room predominantly takes place in one location. In Green Room’s case, the location is the green room at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. A punk band (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) is hired to serve as the opening band. When one of the band members discovers a dead body in the green room, he tries to alert the authorities. A few of the bar’s neo-Nazi employees and residents capture the band, trapping them in the green room.
When the bar’s owner (Patrick Stewart) decides to kill the band, the band fights back, capturing one of the employees. The thrilling cat-and-mouse game between the neo-Nazis and band members turned Green Room into a critical hit as the film ended up on many top 10 lists by the end of 2016.
In 2022, the U.S. is led by the New Founding Fathers of America. Unemployment rates are low, and the country is essentially crime-free. The secret to success is the “Purge,” an event where crime, including murder, is legal for 12 hours. Emergency services, like the police and EMS, are temporarily suspended during this time frame.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family plan to wait out the Purge in their gated Los Angeles community. Their house is guarded by a high-tech security system designed by Sandin’s company. When James’s son lets in a wounded man, they are confronted by a masked, heavily-armed gang who demand the Sandins release the man or face an invasion. The subsequent violence and chaos helped the film become a huge hit with audiences. It spawned a television series and four sequels, with a fifth movie in development.