Combustible Celluloid
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With: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, David Cubitt, Clémentine Poidatz, Crystal Balint, Tim Post, Alex Braunstein
Written by: Christina Hodson
Directed by: Farren Blackburn
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language
Running Time: 91
Date: 11/11/2016

Shut In (2016)

1 Star (out of 4)

Devil Inside

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This shockingly empty thriller somehow attracted a great cast, but, while delivering some dumb jump-scares, it completely ignores the story's looming, daunting psychological, emotional ramifications. It's difficult to discuss the movie's biggest failures without giving away the plot, but let's just say that, when all is revealed, most audiences will simply shake their heads in disbelief, rather than clutching their seats in shock.

Clinical psychologist Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) lives with and cares for her vegetative, paralyzed stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who survived an accident that killed his father, Mary's husband. Her Maine office isn't far from her home, as she never wants to be too far from Stephen. In her office, treats a mostly-deaf boy, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), and the news reports an ice storm on the way. At night, she hears noises, and Tom has run away and broken into Mary's house. But as she makes a phone call, he runs away again, and disappears. Soon, she begins hearing new noises and seeing things in the house. Her own psychologist, Dr. Wilson (Oliver Platt) begins to fear for her safety, just as the ice storm hits.

Shut In, directed by Farren Blackburn (of Netflix's Daredevil), goes through the motions of clunky, obvious storytelling, some clumsy references to The Shining, some sequences in which an ordinary person somehow has supernatural powers, able to sneak up on anyone, instantly, without making a sound. Characters endlessly search for things in the dark, and there are nightmare sequences and a few lazy jump-scares. Naomi Watts and Oliver Platt, both fine actors, give it their best shot here, but it's a wonder why up-and-coming youngsters Charlie Heaton (Netflix's Stranger Things) and Jacob Tremblay (Room) ever signed on to so pathetic a movie.

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