As a horror flick, Shut In delivers sufficient adrenaline with its use of screaming violins at opportune moments and scary young children prowling around in the night. As a serious film, it stumbles under the weight of its own stilted dialogue and lack of atmosphere. Despite an impressive cast comprising Naomi Watts (known for thrillers like Mulholland Drive and The Ring) and Stranger Things star Charlie Heaton, the script lets itself down with screamingly evident plot devices and dialogue so awkward the actors simply cannot pull it off naturally.
When she’s not struggling to deliver her lines, Watts enters smoothly into her trademark horror stricken act and does succeed in grabbing the viewer’s attention. The story revolves around her character, Mary Portman, a widowed child psychologist who must take daily care of her catatonic stepson (Heaton), victim of the same accident that killed his father. She, however, wants to take in one of her more troublesome patients, a young deaf boy named Tom (Jacob Tremblay); but when she brings him into her house and plans to send her son away to a care home, things start going terribly wrong as Tom disappears, seemingly into a vicious snowstorm, and starts haunting her at night.
When the thriller part sets in, it is always night-time in a house chock full of mysterious compartments and corners susceptible to harbouring heart-pounding jump scares. Watts and the viewers are both convinced that the late-night happenings are not just in her head, but for some reason her therapist Dr Wilson (Oliver Platt) refuses to listen to a woman’s cries for help (that is, until he shows up later on in the form of deus ex machina).
The plot unravels as the crazed villain pursues Mary and Tom throughout the house. Unconvincing slasher movie tropes ensue as the nearly indestructible character, who looked undeniably evil from the very beginning, drags his weapon menacingly against railings and walls while searching for his victims. Although the film could have ended multiple times if Mary had taken care to tie her stalker up after knocking him out, or if he had bothered to check behind the coats in the closet where she was hiding, it remains mildly entertaining to see how they’re finally going to escape – but don’t expect anything too mind-blowing.
Shut In is released nationwide on 24th February 2017.
Watch the trailer for Shut In here: