After a good run it’s the season of not very interesting horror movies again. Shut In has a spooky house, things that go bump in the night, and a single mother trying to cope with dealing with a troubled child – it’s a cliché sandwich ready made for you. Sadly the name of the film pretty much advises you to skip heading to the theater and stay right at home.
The single mother in this case is played by Naomi Watts, who originally brought horror to the mainstream zone with The Ring many years ago. Watts is Mary, a child psychologist who has recently lost her husband in an accident. Her step son is paralysed in the accident and she is now forced to take care of him 24/7. One day a patient of hers, the 10-year-old deaf Tom (Jacob Tremblay) arrives at her home and disappears into thin air. Mary, unable to understand where the kid disappeared begins hearing strange noises somewhere in the house.
The problem with the film isn’t the clichés, but the way the film never really rises beyond them. The direction by Farren Blackburn is to blame for this – every moment that is supposed to be suspenseful is complemented by an absurd superseding moment. The final reveal of the mystery is a noble attempt to shake up the thriller-horror genre but is treated with laughably amateurish execution that makes you wish for a more straightforward even clichéd finale. Whatever happens in the third act is just cartoonish and unbelievable because nothing in the previous acts built up the foundation for the reveal. It feels like a cheat of sorts, where you go in expecting something big and supernatural and it turns into a hollow dud, which in fact has no explanation as to why things turned out this way.
The biggest problem is how serious the film is. When the film should actually be going into the pulpy territory Blackburn treats the obvious silliness with great solemnity, rendering some unintentional laughs in the process. Nothing that happens in the film is remotely possible and some of the psychological elements explored in the film will probably make a psychologist audience member depressed enough to visit another psychologist. We're never really sure what writer Christina Hodson tried to do here – whether cleverly subvert a cliché of horror or deliver a full-fledged masala B movie. It should have been an honest attempt at the latter in any case, since the film is not scary on any level.
Also the way Blackburn treats his characters is groan inducing. The 'problem child' angle is explored with an overtly loud actor in his twenties (Charlie Heaton) who doesn’t the least bit look like a teenager and in fact behaves like a twelve year old. I’m not sure which section of audiences the film was made for, but if you get time to see it later on DVD I suggest you give it a spin just to know the reveal, which in my humble opinion gives the ludicrous reveal of 2009’s Orphan a run for its money.