Responsive antagonists can endear themselves to the audience, making viewers wonder if they should be rooting against them at all. Unlike the villains who are on the wrong side of the coin, these characters go against the interests of those we want to protect, but are not completely vicious. The role of Leonard in Dave Bautista’s Knock in the Cabin is definitely an antagonist, and when he was shooting the new 2023 film, Batista struggled, but eventually achieved the balance that comes from such a figure.
Leonard is still an absolutely impressive character in the traditional sense, especially with the Bautista figure playing that role. But beneath his massive exterior hides an alarming but restrained authority. Last weekend during the press day of Universal studios “Knock inthe Cabin” I met with Dave Bautista to discuss his performance in the adaptation directed by M. Night Shyamalan of the book by author Paul Tremblay “The Cabin at the End of the World”. Discussing this topic, he told CinemaBlend about how he overcomes the difficulties associated with such a delicate role:
It was something I struggled with because sometimes my instinct told me to get more emotional, or to be louder, or more aggressive, or to break down a little. And he always reminded me to remember that Leonard feels this responsibility, that he should be in charge. He should be, he is responsible for all these people. He is responsible for making sure that everything goes right, so that these people really believe that he is here out of sincerity, and he really means what he says, he believes in what he says, so he cannot fall apart. So it was kind of my struggle.
When we meet Leonard and his fellow students in the cast of “Knock in the Cabin,” it’s a script that’s a cross between sinister and cute. Soon, Dave Batista’s character gathers grasshoppers together with Ven (Kristen Kui), the young adopted daughter of Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff).
They are connected by friendly, innocent questions until the rest of the group appears in the forest. While the energy of the scene becomes more threatening when Leonard warns Wen that she needs her fathers to let them into the cabin, it never becomes completely threatening.
Together, the four horsemen of the future apocalypse have weapons and some combat abilities. Although, by watching them go through the drama behind “Knock at the Cabin,” we learn more about each member of the team. Another good example of this premise in action is Rupert Grint’s performance as the irascible Redmond, which was also mentioned during this press conference.
Like Julian, his character in the series “The Servant” by M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop on Apple TV+, Redmond is another Grint role that is “unpleasant, but with reservations.” Obviously the hottest of the four-person judging team, we still see Redmond breaking down and explaining himself as a person to influence Andrew and Eric to make a choice in favor of the victim.
Rupert Grint described the same struggle as Dave Bautista in his speech. From his point of view, here’s the challenge that put Knock at the Cabin in the Redmond game:
So yes, it’s interesting, but we see some vulnerability. He is the one who is reforming, he is trying to get better. Just the fact that he is. There are a lot of interesting things in the game, as well as a kind of expression of anger, because it can always seem like a kind of monotonous thing. So he always finds colors, which is kind of nice. …this is such a difficult challenge that I have to be, I just don’t know where you’re going to start getting involved in this. And he’s also the worst person in this situation. With him, you would really feel a bit behind. Because it’s all about negotiations and trying to make these people understand and believe, and it’s almost impossible. So it’s a really interesting dynamic.
Balancing the tone between insane anxiety and deliberate, cold-blooded action, Dave Bautista and his film partners create compelling antagonists. You can see this energy in the “Knock on the Hut” trailer, but it also shows up in some of the short clips that were used to promote the film. Here is the moment from the beginning of the film when Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff are offered to sacrifice someone from their family for the first time:
Considering that “Knock inthe Cabin” has already received enthusiastic responses at early screenings, the work of Dave Batista and his colleagues seems to have paid off. You can experience horror and grief in the theater closest to you when M. Night Shyamalan’s latest hits are broadcast this weekend. While you’re at it, watch Mr. Bautista promote “Dune: Part Two” — another movie that is sure to attract moviegoers to theaters later this year.