Naomi Watts and bathtubs simply do…not…mix. Psychologist Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) is under a lot of stress. Six months earlier, she lost her husband in a car crash, and her stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton) is now comatose from the same accident, confined to a wheelchair. She’s thinking about sending him away to specialized care.
Adding to her stress is one of her young patients, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), who is being taken away from her care despite breakthroughs being made. However, one night, he appears in her isolated home, only to vanish minutes later in the cold. With a heavy storm incoming, the boy could die, if he isn’t abducted. Complicating matters is an intruder who seems to want Mary all alone.
As stated before, 2016 has been a pretty strong year for small budget thrillers, especially of the home invasion/confinement variety. Don’t Breathe, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and Hush immediately come to mind. Unfortunately, a fourth movie will not be joining that group. Shut In is 91 minutes one could spend doing a lot of things as opposed to watching this feature.
The thing is, Shut In doesn’t aspire to be a particularly great horror/thriller. It is evident within the first five minutes that director Farren Blackburn (Daredevil Netflix show) and debut Hollywood writer Christina Hodson (a name that appears like it is going to be heard a lot of in the future) aren’t that concerned with making something that stands out. Cheap, telegraphed jump scares and dream scares are used to an overkill level. Script-wise, the build-up is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, but Hodson manages to keep a little suspense as to what is happening in the film, at least for the first two thirds.
And then, the big twist happens. To not spoil anything if one decides to view Shut In, all I’ll say is that it is one of those twists in which one immediately starts thinking about how it is possible in the first five seconds of its reveal. Honestly, it spits and pisses in the face of logic, and it is probably the most laughably awful twist since The Loft in 2015. From here, anyone who’s had experience viewing these types of movies knows exactly how, even where, the climax will take place and how it’ll end.
The one sole positive of Shut In is the uber-talented Naomi Watts, who gives this movie her all despite the movie not really deserving it. She sells all of her character’s difficulties and fears and possible craziness. If only she had someone to play off of. That person should have been Jacob Tremblay, but he’s a poor man’s version of what he did in Room without the bond he and Brie Larsen possessed and the character to boot.
The scenes Watts shares with Oliver Platt, playing as a shrink to Watts’ shrink, or David Cubitt, a potential love interest to Watts’ character, do little to nothing for the movie. Lastly, Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things fame is pretty bad here. 22 is not much older than 18, but he doesn’t have one of those faces that can pass for 18, so it becomes somewhat comical when he’s consistently referred to as a teen. As the feature progresses, his performance becomes a bad rendition of similar roles.
Want to see a film that devolves from “cliché but harmlessly average” to “pathetically illogical” by the end of its runtime? Shut In is that film. Otherwise? Stay in, and stay far away.
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