On Thursday, the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie, “Knock at the Cabin,” was released to the excitement of the “Sixth Sense” director’s many fans. The film, which is slated 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 surreal,” said Tremblay, 51, a math teacher and Bram Stoker award-winning writer who has won acclaim with his psychological thrillers and ambiguous horror novels.
Here’s the premise: A family of three goes deep into the woods to enjoy some downtime in an idyllic New England-style cabin, far from the rest of the world. But not long into their vacation, a ragtag group of strangers with medieval-style weapons arrive at their doorstep with a terrifying ultimatum — “Save your family, or save humanity. Make the choice,” the movie’s tagline says.
To avoid any spoilers, we’ll leave it at that.
After the trailer was released (it has already been viewed nearly 10 million times on Twitter alone), fans of Tremblay’s work were excited to see that an adaptation of the story — a heart-pounding tale that mostly takes place within the cabin’s walls — was hitting the big screen.
“Based on this trailer, I’ve just bought ‘The Cabin At The End Of The World’ by @paulGtremblayread the first two chapters, and now plan to ignore work, friends, parenting commitments, and all other important matters until I have finished it,” another wrote.
The Globe caught up with Tremblay, whose latest book “The Pallbearers Club” hit shelves in July, as buzz around the film continued to build.
Here’s what he had to say about the adaptation, meeting the actors and director, and what his students think about his macabre writing career. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity).
How are you feeling about this book becoming a film?
To say it’s really exciting would be an understatement. Especially seeing the trailer — it’s such a minor detail but seeing the grasshoppers and [the child character] Wen keeping notes on [the insects] — it’s just so wild. To hear lines from the book coming out of [actor] Dave Bautista‘s mouth, it’s very exciting and it looks like it’s been shot beautifully. I think it’s going to be a super intense, beautifully shot film.
You mentioned at a recent event that you had a chance to see the filming in person?
At a production warehouse, sound-stage kind-of-thing [in Pennsylvania] they had built a cabin on the inside for interior shots. That was really wild. Being inside the warehouse and then inside a cabin — this beautifully built cabin that people in New England would stab people for I got to meet pretty much everybody. It was really cool.
Did you meet M. Night Shyamalan?
M. Night let me watch him work, really closely. For much of my two-day visit I was sitting in the same sort-of cabin room watching M. Night basically direct; watching him watch the action. In between scenes I met the actors and they were super nice and super cool. They had all read the book, too, which was really wild. They were very complimentary. I brought a copy of my own book — a hardcover that I had — and had the actors sign it, and M. Night signed it as well.
Your books are widely read, including by Stephen King. But this seems like a big door to open for you.
Oh, absolutely. I imagine there’s just going to be even more attention when the movie comes out in February. So far it’s been fairly low-key, trying to keep some mystery around the movie in place, and I’ve been trying to play ball as much as I can. But it’s an amazing opportunity. I’d love to see more of my work adapted. I would assume more opportunities would arise, but we’ll see.
What was it like getting a call from M. Night that he wanted to use the book as a basis for the film?
It was sort of 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 barely starting to mess around with writing. I was very much a hobbyist at that point. So, to be on the phone with him it was definitely like, ‘Wow, I am on the phone with M. Night Shyamalan, this is pretty crazy.’” But he had a lot of nice things to say about the book and it was very upfront — which I appreciated — about some of the ways he might change the plot and stuff like that, which obviously is par for the course for any sort of adaptation.
Without spoiling anything, will avid fans of your work see major differences?
I can’t say much. I’ll just say that for people who read the book, there are still some things that can surprise you when you watch the movie.
What does the school where you work make of all this?
Once they started filming, the rights [to the book] were purchased, so the movie is giving me the financial flexibility to take the year off from teaching. My school — St. Sebastian’s School in Needham — has always been supportive of my writing; incredibly supportive. They’re totally onboard with me taking a year off and holding my job for me. I just finished my 27th year there.
Are you a celebrity in the halls of St. Sebastian’s?
Everyone at school is excited. I just got an email this morning from a student I had last year, and he wants to interview me for the school paper about the movie. The kids are interested. And honestly, I think they think it’s more cool that I have a blue checkmark on Twitter more than anything else.
Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.