Knock At The Cabin's Score Sneakily References A Biblical Prophecy [Exclusive]

This article contains major spoilers for the ending of "Knock at the Cabin." 

M. Night Shyamalan movies have typically featured characters attempting to make sense of powers beyond their control. Ghosts, aliens, superheroes, and, yes, all things spiritual fall squarely under this label and the visceral thrill provided by genre movies has always allowed the divisive filmmaker to explore such topics with ease. It's a lot easier to sneak these sorts of ideas into mainstream entertainment than it is to get viewers to flock to the theaters to watch, say, a three-hour epic about Catholic missionaries attempting to convert Japanese unbelievers in the 17th century. (For what it's worth, you should absolutely check out Martin Scorsese's "Silence" if you haven't!)

So it should come as no surprise that "Knock at the Cabin," the latest Shyamalan movie about skeptics being confronted with the fervent belief that the end of the world is upon them, would come laced with all sorts of biblical imagery and references. Yet as much as the director traffics in such visuals and subtext, that inspiration trickled down to various other aspects of the film, as well. Fittingly enough, even the original score for the film reflects the overarching themes of the story.

/Film's Jack Giroux had the chance to interview the composer of "Knock at the Cabin," Herdís Stefánsdóttir, but you'll have to read on for the fascinating details as their discussion delved into spoilers. Turn back now if you haven't had a chance to watch the movie yet!

Going biblical

Still here? Good. Those who've seen "Knock at the Cabin" know just how apocalyptic things get as the story progresses. Though initially skeptical of Dave Bautista's Leonard and his very motivated home-invading compatriots who believe the end of the world is coming, the tightknit family of Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) must come to terms with the evidence right before their eyes. Forced to either kill one of their own to save the day or watch helplessly as the four strangers murder one of themselves in a ritual sacrifice to unleash biblical plagues, the consequences are as all-consuming as it gets.

That's exactly what composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir felt eager to dig into in a recent conversation with /Film's Jack Giroux. When asked about how she went about composing doomsday for the film, Stefánsdóttir responded:

"Well, for this particular movie, I am going to the Book of Revelations. I was reading a lot about that. The angels, it's the doomsday prophecy from the Old Testament. There were seven angels, and for each plague that was to be unleashed for humankind, an angel would blow [a horn]. I was referencing the biblical story in the score, but not until later, because we couldn't give it up. For example, before they sacrifice [Rupert Grint's character] Redmond, there's a knocking sound, and I make it knock seven times. The numbers that I'm using, I'm really intentionally — nobody's going to know that I'm referencing this prophecy from the Old Testament."

Talk about a deep cut. As obvious as the biblical parallels may seem on-screen, it's likely that viewers never would've guessed that even the tiniest details in the score were in reference to the same theme.

Angels and demons

When one of the characters in "Knock at the Cabin" finally verbalizes the stakes of their predicament — that the strangers in their vacation home truly believe that they're the four horsemen of the apocalypse — the film rushes audiences headlong into the tensest part of the story. Whittled down to just one last man holding back the destruction of all humanity, the imposing but oddly gentle Leonard leads Eric and Andrew outside for one last confrontation. If they don't choose to kill one of themselves, Leonard will slit his own throat and unleash hell on Earth.

When he does just that, composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir told /Film that this signaled the arrival of a brand-new musical theme in the film:

"That is the first moment I then take the angels flowing, it's like this big brass sound that comes. It's a complete reference to the biblical story. I thought it was super fun to read about that and get inspired, because that is the understory. That is the big plot. That is something we don't know until the end of the film. So I really like taking inspiration from that stuff and creating the sonic world. And then of course, use the voices. It's the angelic choir that comes there just after Leonard dies."

Audiences have been well-trained to dig for every little detail in an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but something tells me that quite a few viewers will have to go back for a re-watch this weekend to catch all the auditory clues they missed along the way. (Yes, I'm absolutely speaking for myself here.)

Stay tuned for the full interview to be published on /Film. Meanwhile, "Knock at the Cabin" is currently playing in theaters.