Rated: PG-13 for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 11, 2016 Released by: EuropaCorp
Dismal, dreary Quebec-shot, New England-set horror-thriller may draw more of the desperate genre fans.
"Shut In" features accomplished Aussie thespian Naomi Watts who's mined some of this territory in films like Dream House and The Ring movies with director Farren Blackburn trying to color in a butterfingered, forecasted tale with edgy, atmospheric, even psychological tricks.
A couple of threads from Christina Hodson's stilted, uninvolving screenplay concern Watts's harried child psychologist Dr. Mary Portman whose stepson Stephen, an angry Charlie Heaton, is a victim of a fatal (head-on) auto accident on the way to school which took the life of Mary's husband.
The problematic kid proves troublesome for Mary trying to break through to him; his neurological (his cognizance proves crucial to the outcome) state from the tragic event has left him needing constant attention from her for his invalid condition. Being in a swank, but remote rustic abode is ripe for their situation to get more dicey.
That's where the psychologist's dealing with young hearing impaired Tom (Jacob Tremblay of Room - hardly as interesting here) becomes important to a family's distress. Especially after a powerful winter storm puts Tom in harm's way and having quite an effect on a perturbed mother and incapacitated boy. And, how Mary really feels about suffering and mortality in an escalating case doesn't have emotional dearth to it. Some auxiliary solace manifests itself in Oliver Platt's confidante who is an amicably likable presence trying to keep Mary's intense plight from taking too disturbing of a toll
Nonetheless, those into these strands and perhaps sympathetic to this kind of caretaker still will find all this personal severity without the unexpected jolts (besides the ubiquitous jump-scares) and neat twists evident in recent forays like Don't Breathe and Lights Out. Watts is an able screamer as she demonstrated for Gore Verbinski some 15 years ago, but under a British television director like Blackburn she's hardly as persuasive and Heaton can't shade Stephen very much at all. The intended haunting, potential claustrophobic power of a moody, haphazard will likely leave most shut out in the cold.