16 April 2017



This is an absolute cracker of a horror/thriller starring the lovely blonde lady who once did the Charleston and a few gymnastics for a giant ape in Peter Jackson's excellent addition to the KING KONG canon. I think you can work out the name of the film. It's not SPEED 3, I'll tell you that for nothing...!

That's not to say that I didn't get really annoyed with her over the course of SHUT IN, however. I'll be quite happy to outline exactly why for the paltry price of a few Easter eggs and a couple of Crunchies. It's Easter Sunday, after all. Have a heart, you guys. You can leave your chocolatey donations by the door...

Okay, so the delectable Ms. Naomi Watts (THE RING, THE IMPOSSIBLE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE) plays Mary Portman here, an attractive child psychologist. She lives in the wilds of the New England countryside in a fabulous house to which her child psychology practice is adjacent. Yeah, she's filthy rich. She's not alone in her fancy-pants rich-person wilderness, however.

She's the sole carer and guardian of her teenage stepson Stephen, who's paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He was disabled in the same accident that killed his Dad, just as the Dad was driving him off to a special school better equipped to deal with his attitude problem than his parents. Now he can't do anything at all for himself.

Mary is a loving but incompetent mother. She leaves the lad on his own all day in front of the TV. It's the Homer Simpson school of parenting, people! The kid's even seen watching a shark programme at one point, just like Baby Maggie Simpson when Homer leaves her sitting in front of SHARK WEEK while he nips out for a bit.

It's important to add that there's a rival in the picture now for Mary's maternal affections. It's a little orphaned deaf kid called Tom, one of Mary's patients. He's played by Jacob Tremblay, the boy from last year's hit sensation, ROOM. He's had a decent haircut since then, thank Jesus, but there's no mistaking the big-eyed sulky pout on him.

You can analyze all of little Tom's psychological problems in a couple of sentences. He's been locked up for five or six years with a mopey, depressed woman with poor fashion sense who properly did his head in trying to get him to name everything in their dreary God-awful surroundings. Bada-bing-bada-boom, we're done here, haha.

Nah, seriously, Mary really takes to little Tom, probably because she still really needs to feel like a Mom but Stephen, the teenage paraplegic, is no longer capable of either showing or responding favourably to affection. Mary feels about as useless as a spare prick at an orgy, excuse my French. 

Mary is very careless, however, and loses the little boy while he's in her care. Come on, Mary! How do you lose a little boy? It's not like he's your phone or car keys, you dozey woman. But the police are looking in the woods for Tom and it's blizzard season as well, so God alone knows what'll happen to the poor frozen little critter.

Anyway, from the moment that little Tom goes missing, Mary starts to get the eerie feeling that her house is haunted. What, her isolated, miles-from-anywhere house in which tragedy, pain and suffering have all lived side-by-side for the past several months has a ghostly presence inhabiting its sorrowful walls? Pull the other one, love. It's got bells on...

Mary goes a bit nutty. She starts hearing noises and seeing visions and leaving her bedridden son Stephen alone in the house while she wanders outside in the snow to look for intruders that don't seem to be there. Stephen doesn't even have a carer to sit with him while his stepmother goes walkabout. If ever there was an airtight case for social services...

There's a breath-taking twist in this that comes about halfway through the film. I didn't see it coming at all. It was brilliant to be surprised like that. The way in which the twist is delivered is also brilliant. 

I was already loving the film, despite Mary's obvious shortcomings on the maternal side, but this twist made me really sit up and take notice. It was truly electrifying. From this point onwards, the isolated house becomes a battleground as Mary struggles for her sanity... and maybe even her very life...

Oliver Platt, a well-known face on TV from programmes with the name CHICAGO in them(!), is great as Mary's online psychotherapist. Though one wonders if he'd be half so keen to Skype her every five minutes to inquire about her well-being if she were a sweaty male Sumo-wrestler type instead of a young and very attractive woman. I strongly question his motives, in other words. No-one's that keen to do their boring old job...!

The actors portraying the two kids are both excellent. The film reminded me of several others, by the way, apart from, obviously, ROOM. I'll list them here so that you guys can see what parts of the film remind you of these others. They are:

MISERY, THE SHINING, PSYCHO, THE ORPHANAGE, THE CHILDREN, WHAT LIES BENEATH and John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. All quality movies, to which it would be an honour to be compared. See what ye think, anyway.

This excellent horror-thriller is out now on PVOD, Blu-Ray, DVD and EST, courtesy of ARROW FILMS and FETCH PUBLICITY. It's a haunted house/pyschological chiller with an edge that'll keep you guessing right till the end.

Is this all really happening? Is it a metaphor for something? Has Mary's grief for her dead husband and disabled son caused her to hallucinate things- and people- that aren't really there? These questions won't be answered till the very end of the movie, folks. Watch the film. It's the only way to get to the truth of Mary's madness...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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