HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Shut In
HTS Overall Score:66
PG-13 horror films are a tough sell in and of themselves. The nature of the horror genre kind of creates a situation where PG-13 entries feel a bit neutered or lackluster with no blood, tons of jump scares and pretty much nothing else. That’s not to say you CAN’T make a great PG-13 horror movie, but that they are few and far between. Usually the directors try too hard with shadows and jump scares. Leaving very little on the table to really be able to chew on. “Shut In” takes that tired old cliché and pushes it ever further, making the jump scares not even REMOTELY scary (I’d would place them on the equivalent scale of walking up to someone in the middle of a brightly lit day, say “boo” in the most bored manner possible and still expect your “victim” to be scared), and the M. Night Shamalamadingdong twist at the end so hilariously bad that I almost thought I was watching a comedy.
The film starts out with Child Psychologist Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) and her husband agreeing to send off their troubled 18-year-old to boarding school, only for the two to end up in a fatal accident which kills her husband and leaves their son, Stephen (Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things) paralyzed from the neck down and unable to communicate. Six months later, Mary is still practicing in the remote outskirts of Maine, but also struggling to take care of the invalid Stephen as well. When a young mute boy by the name of Tom (Jacob Tremblay) comes into the picture, Mary starts going through some strange hallucinations. Tom vanishes right from underneath her eyes almost, and soon after she starts hallucinating and hearing things at night. Her conversations with her own shrink (Oliver Platt) don’t seem to be going anywhere, with the only helpful advice he can give her is to try and prescribe a sedative to help Mary sleep.
Not convinced that what she is seeing is fake, Mary starts to delve deeper and deeper into the mysterious events that happen around her house, only to find out that there may be more to this than meets the eye. Her own hallucinations will reveal that there is something insidious and evil hidden in her house, and it may not be the thing that she fears.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92665[/img]There’s a sense of wonder and amazement about “Shut In”, but it’s not what you think. That sense of wonder is wondering just how they got the venerable Naomi Watts roped into shooting this movie, and amazement that she didn’t run the opposite direction after reading the script. To say that “Shut In” is sloppy and lazy is an understatement. I pretty much had the ending pegged from the first 10 minutes of the movie, and the lazy acting all around is mind boggling. Naomi Watts does her best with the little material she’s actually given, but the slap dash nature of the script doesn’t allow for a whole lot of flexibility acting wise.
The core of a horror movie is being able to feel creeped out or at least startled by some of the jump scares prevalent in PG-13 horror flicks, but that is the one thing that “Shut in” doesn’t deliver on. There’s plenty of cheese, there’s plenty of inane ideas, but there is a distinct lack of scares. You could tell by the score and audible gasps of the actors that there were moments where it was SUPPOSED to be scary, but I’m not sure it could have startled someone out of a light snooze, let along someone who was actually paying attention.
I really liked the actors going into the film, as I’ve had a lot of respect for Watts, Platt (and more recently Charlie Heaton after watching “Stranger Things”), but this movie just saps the life out of any effort these actors could muster. Naomi is about the only believable character, with Oliver Platt sleepwalking through the entire thing. Charlie Heaton’s little twist is seen a mile away and in is more laugh inducing than actually frightening or scary. His overacting feels like it would be best within a Sci-fi level of production, rather than a decently budgeted horror film.
Rated PG-13 for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92697[/img]Filmed using the Red Epic cameras, “Shut In” sports a very nice looking digital image that is fairly clean and clear of any artifacts. The film is inherently dark, but still there is quite a lot of visual details to be eked from the low light levels. Shadows are pleasing and full figured, while only minimal amounts of crush obscure shadow detail from the viewer. Colors tend to be rather muted, with an emphasis on teal and grey, but there are a few moments where an amber hue takes hold of the film, or some splashes of primaries show through. The minimal outdoor and brightly lit shots look a bit better, with strong detail and much brighter colors, but it also has that tendency that modern films have to over expose the white levels and make everything look like its shot in heaven with that soft white glow surrounding the foreground.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92681[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix for the film is more than capable of carrying the intensity (or supposed intensity) of the movie, and is does a good job at encompassing the viewer with 360 degrees of sound. The dialog is strong and clean, well centered in the front channel, with some nice directional cues in the front sound stage. The surrounds get some solid exercise with the sounds of crashing glass in the background, or the scrunching of boots on the snow mingled with the sounds of our villain thrashing about back in the house. LFE is powerful and clean, but surprisingly not as active as I would have expected from the genre. The bass hits are hard and intense, just not as much or as loud as others in the horror ilk have demonstrated.
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• Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles
“Shut In” is not what I would call an effective horror movie, let alone effective MOVIE in general. It really feels like first time screenwriter Christina Hodson came up with the twist at the end first, and then tried create a story AROUND that concept instead of the other way around. As such it feels very contrived and ridiculously sloppy in the execution. Don’t get me wrong, the premise for the film had some promise, but all the good intentions in the worlds can’t make up for improper execution. The audio and video are quite good, and are probably the best parts of the entire package. Unfortunately, the extras are about as lackluster as the film itself, leading me to give this one a solid “skip it” recommendation.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Jacob Tremblay
Directed by: Farren Blackburn
Written by: Christina Hodson
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Buy Shut In On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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