The classic elements of horror are in place. A large,
lonely house with only woods and trees as neighbours and a paralysed stepson
for company. Clinical psychologist Mary Portman’s husband is dead after a car
accident that left his son Stephen catatonic. She cleans Stephen’s dribble after feeding
him, steps out to encourage deaf nine-year old patient, Tom. There’s a storm
brewing, winds howling. Tom turns up and abruptly goes missing from her house.
She hears footsteps, gets nightmares, imagines she’s drowning Stephen in the
bathtub, jumps with fright at a raccoon. And she consults Dr Wilson over Skype
who tells her she’s got sleep problems.
Once director Farren Blackburn sets it all up, an emptiness
matching the house creeps in. The twist that finally comes in the tale is
really not worth the effort of waiting for it. Barely fifteen minutes into the
film, Christina Hodson’s screenplay exhausts all the known essentials for jump
scares with convenient and lazy writing.
Without spilling any spoilers, you do for instance
wonder why Dr Wilson would drive all the way to Mary’s house when a coherent
call to 911 should’ve brought the cops to her door. But I guess the body count
wouldn’t have been impressive if the demented criminal or resident ghost didn’t
get enough scenes to bludgeon someone before the climax
in the snow.
Apart from the fact that it’s all so seen-before and
experienced too often, several details are also left unexplained. Not that the
nitty-gritty matters when the larger picture is itself so devoid of newness. Even
a naked Portman doesn’t serve terror or thrill since it’s ill-placed and
Cast as Mary Portman, Naomi Watts is enthusiastic but
ultimately it’s a job that doesn’t serve its purpose.
For a horror film that doesn’t go beyond basic
requirements, Shut In gets a 2*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author