The premise: Happy family Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) take a vacation to a remote cabin in the woods. Their peaceful getaway is soon interrupted by a group of four strangers led by the burly, soft-spoken Leonard (Dave Bautista), who claims they are there to prevent the apocalypse. Eric, Andrew, and Wen must agree to willingly sacrifice one of their own. If they don’t, Leonard and his associates will kill themselves, one per day. The apocalypse will unfold after the last of them is dead. TV news broadcasts appear to back up Leonard’s story, as well as his (supposedly) prophetic visions.
The twist: Though circumstantial evidence suggests the intruders may be homophobes enacting an elaborate revenge scheme, they turn out to be telling the truth. The apocalypse arrives after Leonard kills himself, and with planes falling from the sky and lightning consuming the landscape, Eric agrees to die, regaining his tentative faith. Andrew shoots him, and the end of the world abruptly ceases.
The surprise factor: It was always going to be 50-50. Either Leonard’s telling the truth, or he isn’t. Any further twist, like it all being a simulation or some sort of test, would risk retreading material from “Old” or “The Cabin in the Woods.” Once again, though, Shyamalan surprises readers of the original book, “The Cabin at the End of the World,” in which Wen dies and the apocalypse remains uncertain.