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Shut In (2016)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/28/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/28/2017

The Black List is an annual review and compilation the most well-liked scripts which have been circulated in Hollywood, but have yet to make it to the screen. The reasons why these popular stories have not been produced range from the material being too obscure to the content being called "unfilmable". Many of them do get made and for a good number of these movies, we are left to wonder why anyone would have dragged their feet in producing such an intriguing or important story. However, every once in a while, we get a movie from The Black List where we can't help but think that the script must have been far different from the lackluster movie. The is the case with Shut In.

Mary (Naomi Watts) has spent six months caring for her stepson, Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who is in a persistent vegetative state, following a car accident which also claimed the life of her husband. Living in a secluded house in Maine, Mary spends her days bathing and feeding Stephen, while also maintain her psychology practice, which is housed over her garage. One of her patients is a young boy named Tom (Jacob Tremblay), who is deaf and deals with a lot of anger. One night, Mary finds that Tom has broken into her house. While she is waiting for his guardian to retrieve him, he disappears. Following this, Mary's dreams of haunted by visions of Tom, and she begins to believe that he is in danger. Little does she know that there are other forces working against her.

As hypocritical as this may sound, I don't put much credence in film critics. It seems that many of them are more interested in pushing their own agenda (whatever that may be) than giving truly honest evaluations of movies. This seems especially true with horror movies. Most critics appear to dismiss the genre as a whole and their reviews are often so vague that one has to wonder if they actually watched the movie. So, I wasn't deterred by the 6% aggregate score which Shut In has on RottenTomatoes.com. I've watched plenty of horror movies which had low scores like this which turned out to be mediocre of better.  Now that I've watched Shut In, I can tell you that 6% is far too generous.

People often exaggerate or inaccurately use the term "bad movie". There is a vast difference between a low-budget amateur production which isn't very good and a professionally-made film with known actors which is a stinker. Shut In falls squarely into that second category, as everyone involved should have known better. From the outset, this is a bad movie. Following the wreck which kicks off the story, we are treated to scene-after-scene of Mary walking around her house, and then walking outside, and then walking around her house. The movie attempts to make things interesting with some jump scares, but there is so little story in the first 45-minutes, that the movie feels non-existent at times. Then, around the 45-minute mark, Shut In's big twist arrives. You'll note that I didn't mention this in the above synopsis and I won't give it away here. But, I will say that it is one of the worst plot turns in movie history. I feel certain that Screenwriter Christina Hodson felt that the twist was very creative, but it's so non-sensical and asks so much of the audience that it simply doesn't work. We are not simply asked to suspend our disbelief, as many movies do. No, we are asked to believe something which could never happen in real life. The twist is certainly surprising, because it's so radically far-fetched. (Actually, I jokingly predicted that something like the twist was going to happen, but I wasn't being serious.)

Whereas the first 45-minutes of Shut In was simply boring, the second 45-minutes of the movie is a complete mess. When the twist first arrives, the audience is left wondering if what we are seeing is real, or just another one of Mary's dreams. Once we realize that it is really happening, we are left to try and figure out how or why the movie thought that we would swallow any of this. While this is happening, we are also confronted with the third act from many, many slasher films, including a death which is very predictable. So, to recap, the movie goes from dull, to insane, to overly familiar in the span of 90-minutes, creating an experience which won't be pleasurable for anyone. I like Naomi Watts and she seems to be trying her best, but watching her walk around and then run around is truly a cringe-worthy experience. 2017 is only a few months old, but I think that I've already seen the worst home video release of the year.

Shut In can't honestly expect us to buy any of this on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, and although there are some dimly lit scenes here, the image is never overly dark or bright. The image has nice depth at times, especially the exterior scenes which have the snowy background. The level of detail also works, as the image is rarely soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix does an excellent job of representing the noises coming from throughout the house, as these noises fill the front and rear channels. The subwoofer effects appear during the "shock" sequences and they are effective.

The Shut In Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extras. "Nightmare V. Reality: Imagining Shut In" (8 minutes) contains comments from Watts, Director Farren Blackburn, and Hodson, who talk about the story and touch some on the production. We get some on-set footage as well here. "The House on Delphi Lane: A Classic" (4 minutes) focuses on the house in the film and how the bulk of the film takes place in one location. The only other extra is a THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.