There’s not much in the way of good things to be said about this film. Shut In’s slow, lackluster plot follows the story of Mary Portman, recently widowed by a car accident that left her stepson Stephen in a vegetative state. Mary lives alone deep in the snowy woods of New England, where she takes constant care of Stephen in addition to running a children’s psychology clinic out of her home. When one of her patients, a young boy named Tom, goes missing and is presumed dead, Mary’s mind begins to deteriorate as she starts to see Tom everywhere she looks.
Shut In boasts a star-studded cast of recent gems, Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), as well as the ever-reliable Naomi Watts (The Ring, Funny Games, The Impossible). Unfortunately, all of this talent could not save Shut In from its atrociously written and lazily executed script. The first two-thirds of the film are a waiting game devoid of any real tension or suspense to make it worth your time. The plot is entirely dependent upon the third-act twist to retain any semblance of interest from the audience, which is where the term ‘snoozefest’ comes into play. About 45 minutes in, I leaned over to my friend Rob and whispered, “I’m so bored,” to which he responded, “Can we leave?” This happened more than once throughout the film. But alas, we trudged on and, as expected, the ‘payoff’ was not worth the wait.
Shut In suffers from a storytelling fault that, in more ways than one, I can only equate to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” As a way of depicting Mary’s deteriorating mental state, the film constantly builds suspense in eerie scenes, only to cut short as we realize it was just a dream. This happens over and over again, to the point where the viewer gets frustrated and just won’t buy it anymore. Much in the same way, Shut In is helplessly reliant on loud jump scares that turn out to be nothing but a harmless animal or a friendly character. This makes for an exhausting first two acts, and drains the audience of any stake in the film by the third.
However, regardless of all the problems I had with the first two acts of this film, it wasn’t until Act III that the fatal flaw was revealed: Shut In was trying to emulate Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). In any other case, I’d be ecstatic to see homage paid to one of my favorite films of all time, if it had been executed in an artistic way. But after sitting through an hour of absolute trash, I was appalled. These filmmakers had the audacity to sloppily toss in blatantly obvious references to a Kubrick masterpiece in the last half hour of their film, in an attempt to bring some life to the drab script. If I was still giving Shut In any chances at this point, all bets were off.
Aside from the solid performances by the main cast members, this film lacks any real redeeming characteristics. The cinematography is just as plain and uninteresting as the story, save for one or two well-crafted shots. The plot is uninteresting and at times even confusing in the way it unfolds. Overall, Shut In is an overwhelmingly boring, disappointing work of modern horror.