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Shut In movie review: great actors wasted in an unconvincing thriller

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:39 IST

The trailer was promising, but the movie just floundered at every possible turn.

A terrible accident leaves Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) a widow. She's left all alone to take care of her stepson Stephen (Sranger Things's Charlie Heaton), who's in a vegetative state.

Cut to six months later, she's bathing him, feeding him and changing him while also running a psychiatric practice from an office a stone's throw from her house.

For all purposes, she's a shut in. With her stepson.

Her only real contact with the outside world besides a colleague is her own therapist (Oliver Platt), who counsels her online.

Things begin to deteriorate when she begins treating deaf orphan Tom (Room's Jacob Tremblay). The boy winds up at her house one cold, snowy evening and disappears minutes after being tucked in with a hut mug of cocoa.

Mary begins to think she's seeing things at night; that Tom is dead and is haunting her when a few things go bump in the night. We're left questioning her sanity for a large portion of the one-and-a-half-hour movie.

Her shrink suggests she's suffering from something called "sleep parasomnia". But before that can be properly addressed, , a blizzard plunges the remote house into darkness.

Spoilers ahead

In a rush to make its big reveal, the movie tips its hand too early - and very jarringly at that - to reveal the root of Mary's problems: 18-year-old Stephen.

Turns out he was not paralysed at all, but thoroughly enjoying being taken care off by the love of his life - his stepmom - and having her all to himself. The rest of the movie is just everyone, including Tom, fighting to stay alive as the hammer-carrying maniac runs about the house menacingly, locking them all in with a few trusty nails.

The cast is dismally wasted, particularly Watts, who has always shown agency in any horror movie she's starred in. Heaton pulls of his bit very well, particularly in one beautifully shot scene that's reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. But there are just too many holes in the plot that never get explained that it's just confusing fare.

And a complete waste of talent.

The verdict

It's unconvincing, too focused on borrowing every horror movie trope it can to keep it afloat to really get under you skin.

RATING: 2 out of 5

First published: 19 November 2016, 2:14 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.