Disc Reviews

Shut In (2016) DVD Review

Following her journey into horror films with the Ring films Naomi Watts once again returns to a similar type of personality, playing an intelligent and educated woman and mother who is trying to understand and investigate the nature of her hauntings. In this French-Canadian psychological horror thriller, Watts plays Mary Portman, a child psychologist. The film opens in rural Maine (but filmed near Vancouver) with Portman’s husband driving his teenage son to a boarding school because of his behavioural issues. The son, Steven (Charlie Heaton) becomes uncontrollably angry and causes the car they are travelling in to swerve into an oncoming lorry. Steven’s father is killed while Steven is left in a vegetative state. 6 months later the widowed Mary is left to look after her stepson. News comes of an ice storm heading which will leave Mary isolated in her large rural house. Meanwhile she is working with her latest patient, a deaf 8-year-old child whom she feels she is making a breakthrough with but social services decide to move him away. Mary begins to suffer strange dreams in which she is haunted by the boy and Steven whom she harbours fantasies of carrying out a mercy killing. She learns that the boy has run away and becomes unsure when she seems him whether this is real or another dream or vision. Meanwhile a psychologist friend (Oliver Platt) she turns to believes that what she experiences is down to a mixture of grief, isolation and sleep deprivation.

By the second half of the film what is actually going on is revealed too early, leading the film to become a standard hide and slash psychological thriller of the type seen hundreds of times. The promise that Shut In initially demonstrates sadly does not carry into the second half of the film. Credit does have to go to the sound design of the that creates some genuine jumps, scares and red herrings with some effectiveness. Most of the scares come in not knowing what’s going on, what is real and what is in Mary’s imagination. It would be unfair here to make any reveal as to what the outcome is except to say those familiar with Patrick Hamilton’s Victorian gothic melodrama play, ‘Gaslight’ (made into films in 1940 and 1944) may give a hint as to what is going on. As well as the superb sound design the widescreen wintry cinematography also adds to the atmosphere. Uses of modern technology also has an effective moment where the psychologist who does not believe Mary is left in no doubt that she is the victim of a suspected killer when he sees a shadowy figure move across the screen after he has been Skyping her. As a psyhological thriller it has an effective first half and a rather predictable second half from a film that otherwise has little to separate it from any other similar film.

There are no extras on the disc.

Chris Hick

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