Review: ‘Shut In’ (Naomi Watts Should Really Get Out More)


Naomi Watts plays a widowed child psychologist who feels vulnerable in “Shut In,” which opened on Friday.

Jan Thijs/EuropaCorp

If you’re in any doubt as to the dearth of decent movie roles available to women of a certain age — certain never to see 40 again, at any rate — then buy a ticket for “Shut In.” In this achingly inept thriller, you will see Naomi Watts do what she can to sell a plot of such preposterousness that the derisory laughter around me began barely 20 minutes in.

Playing Mary, a recently widowed child psychologist, Ms. Watts looks becomingly fragile and perpetually worried. Her 18-year-old stepson, Stephen (Charlie Heaton), once a psychologically disturbed ball of hate, is now vegetative and paralyzed after a car accident. Though living in a commodious — and, of course, isolated — New England home, Mary cares for Stephen without so much as a cleaning lady to help. So when one of her patients, a little deaf lad (Jacob Tremblay), goes missing and bumps in the night disturb her sleep, Mary wonders: Is there a ghost or is she bonkers?


Trailer: ‘Shut In’

A preview of the film.

By EuropaCORP on Publish Date November 11, 2016.

Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

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Filmed in rural Quebec and mostly confined to the interior of the house, “Shut In” is just that. Neither its director, Farren Blackburn, nor his screenwriter, Christina Hodson, could have believed that this bromidic nonsense would generate chills. Careening camera angles and squeak-creak-crackle sound effects don’t substitute for actual tension, and high-end cinematography (by Yves Bélanger, who gave “Brooklyn” its swanky sheen) doesn’t replace imagination. Ms. Watts deserves better, and so do you.

“Shut In” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). The story offers little in the way of frights but rather a lot in the way of encouraging birth control. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.

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