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New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - SHUT IN

shut in movie review
A widowed child psychologist is haunted by the disappearance of one of her patients.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Farren Blackburn

Starring: Naomi Watts, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, Oliver Platt, Clementine Poidatz

shut in poster


There's an entire sub-genre of thrillers in which portly respected American actors play clinical experts who communicate with the protagonist over a Skype call. Sometimes they're played by Vincent D'Onofrio, but usually by Oliver Platt.

shut in

In Shut In, Platt plays Dr Wilson, a specialist who administers advice over Skype to Mary Portman (Naomi Watts), a child psychologist who lives with her teenage step-son Steven (Stranger Things star and Leonardo Dicaprio lookalike Charlie Heaton), who is confined to a wheelchair and left in an unresponsive vegetative state following a car accident that also took the life of Mary's husband six months prior.

Mary becomes attached to one of her young clients, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), whom she discovers one stormy night sleeping in her car. While Mary is on the phone to Tom's mother, the young boy disappears into the night. As the days and weeks pass by with no sign of Tom to be found, Mary becomes wracked with guilt, and begins seeing visions of a spectral Tom around her house. Is she going crazy or has Tom returned from the dead to menace her? Better boot up Skype and ask an expert.

shut in

For half of its running time, Shut In plays like your typical sub-standard haunted house thriller, but at the midway point a shocking yet highly improbable twist is unveiled. It's one of those surprise reveals that makes you wish it had been delivered a lot earlier and revealed to the audience ahead of the film's protagonist. Had this route been chosen it would have generated much suspense of the "he's behind you" form, but as it is it's simply effective for a few seconds, and the effect of the initial shock quickly dissipates as a character immediately embarks on one of those awful plot-splaining monologues in order to answer any questions the viewer might require answering.

Thus the second half of Shut In pivots into a formulaic stalk and slash thriller. Okay, let's not kid ourselves, it's a hackneyed imitation of the final act of The Shining, complete with a storm that prevents our protagonist from leaving her home, a useless Scatman Crothers saviour figure, and a deranged maniac wandering around the house cracking one-liners and singing a nursery rhyme while neglecting to look in the most obvious place his prey might be hiding.

shut in

Shut In's script once resided on the infamous 'Black List' of 'Hollywood's best unproduced scripts'. Every time a screenplay is plucked from this list and sent out into cinemas it becomes all too apparent why they were left rotting in a studio vault, as they're almost always terrible, and Shut In is a continuation of this predictable trend.

Shut In is on Blu-ray, DVD and EST from 10th April.



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