With credits which begin with the icy chiller Shut In, this month’s Katherine Heigl thriller Unforgettable and the next Transformers entry, and a spin-off Bumblebee, in the pipeline, the name Christine Hodson may be muttered with enough sighs to parallel the viewing experience of her first feature. Shut In, much like the rest of the features on this specific chopping block, exudes as much originality and class as you may come to expect from an inevitable sixth entry in the Michael Bay franchise.
Widowed child psychologist Naomi Watts lives an isolated existence in rural New England. When a storm hits, she must battle the odds to find a missing boy whilst taking care of her disabled son.
Not all is as it seems as Watts’ formidable approach as a struggling mother makes a mere pass for watchable as she admirably tries her best to induce some sort of twinkle in the eye of a character to flatly written that she becomes an object so vividly transparently in a scene bursting with so much derivative content that you can only hope that Hodson has some sort of twist up her sleeve.
Alas, as one of the film’s glaringly obvious positives encourages some hope — the direction and scenery itself is more than watchable as the isolation does, at times, contribute to a few hairs standing upright on the back of your neck — it doesn’t withstand the kind of lazy genre work which Hodson undoubtedly hacks into; there are obvious similarities to Stephen King’s The Shining as well as douses of Hitchcock and even The Twilight Zone. And whilst it’s often the case that thrillers of this type fall in the trap of familiarity, there’s literally no redeeming factor behind any narrative pulse, any character motivation and any reasoning behind the lacklustre and frankly cheap trick used to ignite a reaction come the final act.
Room’s Jacob Tremblay is wasted, Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton is a simple screen presence and Oliver Platt’s Dr. Wilson is a Skype call away from laughable. Watts is the biggest screen presence here and she battles the odds, including poor writing, but thankfully because Watts is, well, Watts Shut In will just be another Dream House under her resume.
Shut In is here today, but will quickly, thankfully, heroically be gone tomorrow.
Dir: Farren Blackburn
Scr: Christina Hodson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay
Prd: Christine Haebler, Ariel Zeitoun
Music: Nathaniel Méchaly
DOP: Yves Bélanger
Runtime: 91 minutes