On Thursday a trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s New Movie “Knock at the hut‘ was released to the excitement of the ‘Sixth Sense’ director many fans. The film, which is scheduled to premiere in February, is an adaptation of Tremblay’s 2018 apocalyptic novel The Cabin at the End of the World.
“Honestly, it’s a little weird and a little bit surreal,” said Tremblay, 51, a math teacher and Bram Stoker Award-winning writer who has won recognition with its psychological thrillers and ambiguous horror novels.
Here’s the premise: A family of three heads deep into the woods to enjoy a getaway in an idyllic New England-style cabin, far from the rest of the world. But not long on their vacation, a ragtag group of strangers with medieval-style weapons arrive at the front door a chilling ultimatum – “Save your family or save humanity. Make the choice,” says the film’s tagline.
To avoid spoilers, we’ll leave it at that.
Following the release of the trailer, fans of Tremblay’s work were ecstatic to see an adaptation of the story – a heartbreaking tale set mostly within the walls of the cabin – coming to the big screen. A clip of the film has already been viewed almost 10 million times on Twitter.
“Based on this trailer, I just bought ‘The Cabin At The End Of The World’ from @paulGtremblayread the first two chapters and now plan to ignore work, friends, parenting commitments and any other important matters until I’m done with that,” wrote another.
The Globe caught up with Tremblay, whose latest book The Pallbearers Club hit shelves in July as excitement around the film continued to grow.
Here’s what he had to say about the adaptation, meeting the cast and director, and what his students think of his macabre writing career. (This interview was edited for length and clarity).
How do you feel about this book becoming a movie?
To say it’s really exciting would be an understatement. Especially seeing the trailer – it’s such a small detail, but seeing the locusts and [the child character] Who takes notes [the insects] – it’s just so wild. Hear lines coming out of the book [actor] David Bautista‘s mouth, it’s very exciting and it looks like it’s been beautifully shot. I think it’s going to be a super intense, beautifully shot film.
You mentioned at an event recently that you were able to see the shooting in person?
In a production warehouse, something like a sound stage [in Pennsylvania] They had built a booth inside for indoor shooting. That was really wild. Being in the warehouse and then in a cubicle—that beautifully built cubicle that people in New England would stab people to see. I’ve met pretty much everyone. It was really cool.
Have you met M. Night Shyamalan?
M. Night let me watch him work, right there. For much of my two-day visit, I sat in the same kind of cabin, basically watching M. Night directly; watching him watch the action. In between scenes I met the actors and they were super nice and super cool. They had also all read the book, which was really wild. They were very polite. I brought a copy of my own book – a hardback I had – and had the actors sign it, and M. Night signed it too.
Her books are widely read, including by Stephen King. But that seems like a big door opening for you.
Absolutely. I imagine there will be even more attention when the film comes out in February. It’s been pretty low key so far, I’ve tried to keep a secret around the film and I’ve tried to act as much as possible. But it’s an amazing opportunity. I would like to see more of my work adapted. I would assume there would be more opportunities, but we’ll see.
What was it like getting the call from M. Night that he wanted to use the book as the basis for the film?
It was a strange thing. Like so many people, I first saw or heard of M. Night with “Sixth Sense.” [in the late ‘90s], and I was just starting to play around with writing. I was still quite a hobbyist at this point. So, talking to him on the phone was definitely like, ‘Wow, I’m on the phone with M. Night Shyamalan, that’s pretty crazy.'” But he had a lot of nice things to say about the book and was very open – which I appreciated – about some of the ways he could change the plot and things like that, which obviously goes without saying for any kind of adaptation.
Without spoiling anything, avid fans of your work will notice big differences?
I can’t say much. I’m just saying that for people who have read the book, there are still some things that may surprise you when you see the film.
What does the school you work at think of this?
As soon as they started filming, the rights [to the book] were purchased, so the film gives me the financial flexibility to take the year off from teaching. My school – St Sebastian’s School, Needham – has always supported my writing; incredibly supportive. They’re totally on board with me taking a year off and keeping my job to myself. I have just finished my 27th year there.
Are you a celebrity in the halls of St. Sebastian?
Everyone at school is excited. I got an email this morning from a student I had last year and he wants to interview me about the film for the school newspaper. The kids are interested. And honestly, I think they think it’s cooler that I have a blue tick on Twitter more than anything else.
Steve Anear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveanne.