Shut In: Cliched And Full Of Plot Holes


Doors bang, winds howl and plot-holes glare, as Naomi Watts mopes her way through yet another low-rent psychological thriller.

What can you say about Shut In? It’s a film so clichéd that its plot can be mapped with almost perfect accuracy onto its mercifully short running time.

At 15 minutes in we’ve met Mary, a recently-widowed child psychologist, whose mental state deteriorates after she is forced to provide 24-hour care for her vegetative stepson Steven.

Rebellious teen turned comatose creep, Steven is played with scenery-chewing malevolence by Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton, who is arguably the best thing in the movie and appears to be making a successful career toeing the line between sensitive and sinister.

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At 30 minutes in, one of Mary’s patients – a little deaf kid played by Jacob Tremblay -disappears. Right around this time, a creepy, Chucky-like apparition starts haunting Mary’s dreams.

Is it a coincidence? Or is something more sinister afoot? In a film as formulaic as this one, the question is almost rhetorical.

At the hour mark, the film’s well-signposted twist lumbers into view, signalling a gory final showdown, followed by an incongruously happy ending. And that is more or less that…

It wouldn’t be fair to say that Shut In didn’t stick with me. It certainly left me wanting to know more.

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Why, for instance, does the film include a sequence in which a character drinks shampoo and then noisily vomits into the toilet?

Why does Hollywood still think that even faintly adorable children wearing parkas and baby converse are scary?

And why does Mary call the police after a terrifying encounter with a raccoon, only to be visibly relieved to find a child that doesn’t belong to her sleeping in her car?

These moments of wonder aside, the film is all surface, shot with the bland, lifeless veneer of a John Lewis advert: even the billowing snow in its chilly New England setting looks computer-generated.

Shut In is best summed up by Oliver Platt’s cameo appearance as Mary’s psychiatrist Dr Wilson, who councils her almost exclusively through a series of Skype appointments.

In a performance that is quite literally phoned in, Platt seems to want to appear in Shut In about as much as I wanted to watch it.