By BabyRuth (Five Beers) –
Mentally drained from the election and want to escape with a good ol’ heart-pounding thriller? Well, have I not got a movie for you!
Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) is a child psychologist who lives in Maine and wears Lacoste. Other than to go next door to her practice, Mary rarely leaves her big, creaky, isolated house since a tragic car accident took the life of her husband and left her 18-year-old stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton) catatonic. Caring for Stephen has taken a toll on Mary and has even made her mind go to certain, very dark places. She struggles with, but ultimately decides to look into sending him away to a facility that can better care for him. Not a terrible idea, since Mary’s idea of caring for Stephen is to wheel him in front of the TV and leave him there all day long.
Hopefully for Stephen’s sake, the E! network is blocked out so he never has to endure a Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon. He’s suffered enough.
This is the second time Mary has had to make the tough decision to send Stephen away. The first was to ship off the formerly – you know, before he became a vegetable –rebellious teen to a boarding/reform school after his expulsion from high school. Guess what? It was on the way to that reform school when that horrible accident happened.
Meanwhile, one of Mary’s troubled patients, nine-year-old orphan Tom (Jacob Tremblay), who is pretty much deaf (he hears mumbled sounds and can read lips- why no one ever thinks to get this kid a hearing aid and/or teach him sign language or why the story even needs to make him deaf is beyond me… in addition, he’s mute as well), is also going to be sent away after a violent episode with another child. Mary feels she is making progress with Tom and disagrees with the decision. Tom disagrees with it too, and one evening shows up at Mary’s home only to suddenly disappear into the bleak winter night.
A police search comes up empty and it seems very unlikely the child could have survived the dangerous weather conditions.
It is after this incident that Mary begins to notice strange things going bump in the night. Is it Tom? The ghost of Tom? Or is she just going crazy?
This was actually my top November pick to review solely upon learning of the cast. Naomi Watts is always reliable for a great performance regardless of whether the film deserves it or not (Spoiler: this one does not), but I was more interested in seeing young, rising stars Charlie Heaton (Netflix’s Stranger Things – another story about a young boy that goes missing, hmm) and Jacob Tremblay (Room, the human equivalent of unicorns, puppies, and Skittles rainshowers). Unfortunately we don’t get to see much of either as Heaton spends the majority of the film in a vegetative state, and Tremblay is missing, but like Watts, they both commit to this ridiculous thing and rise above it.
“Phew. I had the worst dream! I was in this awful movie where I was naked and had to drink shampoo. Oh no, it wasn’t a dream!”
There are some decently filmed sequences and the cinematography is pretty good I guess.
Christina Hodson’s screenplay is half Lifetime movie, half horror movie cliché handbook adaptation. I was stunned to learn that it made 2012’s Black List alongside freaking Whiplash, because, what? How? Why?
I can’t really go into it without giving anything away (though the big twist is pretty easy to figure out), but trust me, it’s just silly. But when the silly comes, it’s quite a refreshing break from the plodding, depressing, grueling first hour. Seriously, it’s like slowly pulling off a Band-Aid.
Do you like jump scares? How about fifty of them? How about jump scares where it turns out to be something harmless like a raccoon? How about jump scares when it turns out to be just a dream? How about jump scares after a jump scare fakeout? How about jump scares until additional jump scares are no longer effective? How about…
This movie, basically.
I believe this is how the casting of Oliver Platt’s role of Naomi Watts’ psychologist friend went:
Casting director: “Hey Oliver, want to be in a new thriller with Naomi Watts and that adorable kid from Room?”
Oliver Platt: ‘That sounds like fun, but I’m super busy so I may need to pass.”
Casting director: “No, no, don’t worry. We don’t need you to travel or even get out of your chair. Just log on to Skype and say ‘Silly lady, there’s no such thing as ghosts’ a few times.”
Oliver Platt: “Okay, cool. I’m in!”
It’s needless to say that secondary characters in this movie exist only for clunky exposition and to be put into danger when needed, right?
The ending . Again, I can’t say very much without giving it away, but just trust me. There have been some pretty dumb endings of movies this year (Now You See Me 2 and Nerve come to mind immediately), but this one has to be the dumbest.
On the plus side though, the ending means it’s over.
Despite a talented and fully committed cast’s efforts, Shut In is a big NOPE. Not even worth a free Redbox rental code.
Shut In (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every jump scare (Caution: This should pretty much do it. If you’ve had too much and need to induce vomiting, take a cue from Naomi Watts’ character and chug some shampoo)
Take a Drink: every time the “Hush Little Baby” song is sung (Oooh, so creepy)
Take a Drink: whenever anyone mentions the big impending storm
Take a Drink: for every Skype session
Take a Drink: for every The Shining ripoff scene
Do a Shot: for the “big” twist