What is the first thing you do when you are alone in the woods, and four hulking strangers loom over you? You duck for cover, and then you stand up and fight. M Night Shyamalan takes the home invasion trope, gives it a lick of apocalyptic paint, sets it around a gay couple and their little daughter, and comes up with a better film than he has in a while.

Better not just because it is a tight 100 minutes. And not just because it is helmed by the very effective Dave Bautista, who announces the arrival of the fearsome foursome with a gentle but prickly prelude with little Wen (Kristen Cui) as they catch grasshoppers and put them into a glass cage. Sylvan surroundings pierced by morbid, sinister happenings have been Shyamalan’s go-to from the get-go, but for a while now, the combo had stopped ticking. With ‘Knock At The Cabin’, based on the 2018 novel ‘The Cabin At The End Of The World’ by Paul G Tremblay, the director is back in form.

Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), Wen’s two daddies, are relaxing on the back porch when the little girl bursts in, panic-stricken. Four strangers (Amuka-Bird, Aby Quin, and Grint apart from Bautista) carrying strange looking weapons force their way in, and once inside, demand a terrible sacrifice from the trio. At stake is nothing less than the end of the world.

End-of-the-world tales can also turn trope-y, but here Shyamalan uses homophobia to hang a peg on: to begin with, the couple refuse to believe the four strangers who are more weepy than scary (we get to know why, by and by). They think it’s all a delusional yarn. And then they are convinced that they are being targeted for their sexuality, and given a few flashes of how the outside world has treated them, including an icy sequence featuring a set of parents, you believe them.