M. Night Shyamalan’s latest horror thriller might give viewers a feeling of deja vu if they have ever visited the forests that sprawl across areas of South Jersey. That’s because The Pine Barrens was home to the set of Shyamalan’s brand new Knock at the Cabin.
The film, which is based on a novel by Paul Tremblay titled The Cabin at the End of the World, follows a small family who is vacationing in a remote cabin. The story technically takes place in rural Pennsylvania, but Shyamalan chose The Pine Barrens as the backdrop to convey his story. When a stranger approraches the family, who explains a sort of apocalyptic event that is forthcoming, they find themselves in a web of truly horrifying scenarios.
Knock at the Cabin stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Rupert Grint, among others. The film explores several themes intertwined in the fabric of Shyamalan’s classic approach to filmmaking, which includes eerie plots, supernatural occurrences and more.
So, why The Pine Barrens? Well, Shyamalan is no stranger to the area. Born in India, his family relocated to Penn Valley, Pennsylvania—just outside of Philadelphia—when he was young. The surrounding area, which includes The Pine Barrens, has become the backdrop for many of Shyamalan’s films such as 2004’s The Village.
View this post on Instagram
While parts of the movie are filmed in Philadelphia, a large chunk of the film is shot in Burlington County, NJ—more specifically, Tabernacle Township, where the cabin itself lives. Additionally, a Southampton ice cream shop on Route 70, Evergreen Dairy Bar, was redesigned into “Angie’s Roadside Diner” for a scene in the story.
Each New Jersey spot was ideal for a film that centers around the idea of abandonment. Tabernacle and Southampton, NJ are both deep within the famous Pine Barrens—a sprawling forest in South Jersey that has been featured in several movies and television shows such as The Sopranos and more.
The Pine Barrens is unique in that its animals and plants have adapted to survive within the forest, creating a biodiversity that is not seen outside its borders. For a movie that centers around the idea of an impending apocalypse, The Pine Barrens seems to be a metaphoric choice as well as an aesthetic one.
Additionally, The Pine Barrens has been the source of many urban legends within the Garden State. The infamous Jersey Devil is said to reside within the forest, which has become the source material for several movies of its own.
The area’s unique structure, eerie background and scenery drew Shyamalan to it for Knock at the Cabin. The director once again utilizes an area he is familiar with to craft a story that will have you on the edge of your seat. The film is the most recent addition to a growing catalog with people asking: Is New Jersey the next Hollywood? Knock at the Cabin is in theaters now.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for food journalism midway through his schooling and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. Peter never stops learning and he is always in the weeds.