Shut In (2016)

Shut In
Director: Farren Blackburn
Writer: Christina Hodson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, Clémentine Poidatz, Alex Braunstein, David Cubitt, Crystal Balint
Seen on: 19.12.2016

Mary (Naomi Watts) lives a rather lonely existence. A few months ago, her husband Richard (Peter Outerbridge) and her teenaged son Stephen (Charlie Heaton) got into a car accident. Richard died, Stephen was left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak, becoming totally dependent on her. Now she spends all her time taking care of Stephen and working as a child psychologist from home. Just before a snow storm hits the area, one of the children she works with, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), first hides in her house, then runs into the woods. But finding Tom isn’t the only thing that becomes a pressing matter for Mary.

Shut In starts strong enough as long as it builds tension but when they start resolving the story, it pretty much falls apart, leaving a decidedly meh impression.

The set-up of the film works very well. Mary’s loneliness and the isolated placement of her house are nicely set in scene and create a quite literally unheimlich atmosphere that makes Mary a stranger in her own house, a feeling of wrongness that permeates her most private space. It builds a creepy and absolutely scary atmosphere.

Naomi Watts does a great job with her character as well and is a big part of why the build-up of the tension and her situation works so very well. The film focuses mostly on her and her expressive performance makes it easy to slip into her shoes.

But when the film is done with the set-up and tries to deliver on it, it loses the atmosphere and worst of all, it loses control of the story. It just becomes utterly ridiculous and also actually ableist – [SPOILER] when it turns out that the disabled person isn’t actually disabled, but only pretends to be to get benefits and care from his mother [/SPOILER].

So despite the good beginning, the film loses both plot and pacing – growing quite lengthy – in the second half and that is ultimately the feeling that you leave with: of having seen a ridiculous, lengthy film that tries too hard to be original.

Summarizing: Skip it.

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