Shut In was just released today. It was directed by Farren Blackburn based on a screenplay by Christina Hodson and stars Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt and Charlie Heaton.
Alright, so where to start with this? Shut In is not a good movie. For me, it actually hearkens back to the old ABC Movie of the Week style entertainment from the 1970s, which included such treats as Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut, Duel starring Dennis Weaver and such craptastic nonsense as Moon of the Wolf with David Janssen and Geoffrey Lewis. Unfortunately, Shut In is neither low budget genius cinema nor is it bad enough to warrant a place in my craptastic library. No, this is that sort of awful kind of movie which takes itself seriously and sets up a fairly realistic situation with some semi-interesting characters and then proceeds to do the stupidest thing imaginable with those characters.
You start to get this inkling that things might not be working out so well when you are 45 minutes into the movie and nothing noteworthy has really occurred yet. Setup and exposition after setup and exposition leave you wondering where this is all going. The setup specifically involves Naomi Watts, as clinical psychologist Mary Portman, who is happily married and has a troubled stepson, Steven, who is about to be shipped off to boarding school after being expelled from his public school. Steven and his father fight in the car and there is an accident which leaves the father dead and Steven in a paralyzed and rather vegetative state. Fast forward six months and Watts, now the sole caregiver for her son and running her child therapist practice from an office on her property, finds herself cut off from the outside world during a snowstorm and starts to think that someone else is inside her house trying to harm her and her son.
This movie plods along at a sedentary and dreary pace, throwing a few jump scares at you before finally unveiling a big reveal which I saw coming about five minutes into the film. I actually thought to myself “Oh, I wonder if they are going to do this” and the next immediate thought was “No way they are going to do that because that would be the stupidest and most obvious thing they could do and it would be totally contrived and ridiculous.” But you know, that’s exactly what they proceeded to do.
I kept waiting for this movie to get smarter and introduce some kind of twist or spin that would turn everything on its head and make me think that I wasn’t actually watching some awful movie of the week with about as much originality as a Hallmark card. I won’t spoil it for you in case you are going to torture yourself by paying to see this snooze fest, but believe me when I tell you that there’s really nothing to spoil because there are no surprises here. That makes the whole thing sort of self defeating since this movie is billed as a thriller. By definition, a thriller is a movie that builds mood to heighten suspense, surprise or anticipation and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. When you can predict half way into the movie exactly where it’s going and the movie then proceeds to hit all the marks you expect and ends exactly as you thought it would, that’s not what I call thrilling and leaves you wondering what the crew were thinking when they shot it in the first place.
I will say that Naomi Watts certainly struggles to bring something to her role as a concerned and then terrified mother and Jacob Tremblay does a really good job as a deaf mute patient of hers who ends up playing a larger role than you at first think. Everyone else is pretty much showing up for a paycheck, including director Farren Blackburn, who comes up with maybe one or two clever shots but otherwise puts about as much into this as a paint-by-numbers portrait. Blackburn has done quality work on Dr. Who and Daredevil, so there’s really no excuse for the nonsense that goes on here.
I was very surprised when I found out that first-time screenwriter Christina Hodson’s story was actually on the Blacklist for 2012, meaning it was one of the most-liked screenplays for purchase that year. Now there are lots of ways that a screenplay can be interpreted so I can’t lay blame entirely on Hodson for this disaster, but then again, it’s beyond me how anyone could have read this story and thought “Oh man, there’s something I have to put on the big screen immediately.”
I’m giving Shut In a rating of Total Suckage. I highy recommend you not waste your time, or the time of anyone you know or love because they will hate you for it. You’d have a much better time going out to the ice skating rink or, I don’t know, maybe re-tarring your roof. This one is a total waste. You let me know in the comments what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback if you think I missed the boat somehow.
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