2 September 2018



'Hollywood favourites Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain star in the highly acclaimed, mesmerising psychological thriller TAKE SHELTER, which is set for a deluxe UK Limited Edition Blu-Ray release courtesy of SECOND SIGHT.'

'There's a storm coming, and not a one-a-youse is prepared for it.'

Every now and then a film comes along that is practically perfect in every way. You can't find fault with it. It has no visible flaws. TAKE SHELTER is one of these rarities. Although it was made in 2011, I only saw it for the first time recently and it totally blew me away.

I've always had a soft spot for actor Michael Shannon anyway, ever since I saw him for the first time in 2002's Tom Cruise vehicle VANILLA SKY, in which he plays a security guard entrusted with the job of guarding a seemingly crazy Tom Cruise/David Aames who's been charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

Michael Shannon was always very much a lead actor waiting to happen, though, and in TAKE SHELTER he delivers what is commonly known as a 'powerhouse' of a performance as Curtis LaForche, a family man from Ohio who, on the surface of things, appears to have the perfect life.

Families in the movies often do present this enviable image of perfection at first sight, however, like the family in ONE HOUR PHOTO, in which comedian actor Robin Williams turns in a career-best straight performance as the man who witnesses one such family's spectacular fall from grace, and the family in FATAL ATTRACTION, in which Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher makes the terrible mistake of allowing his one 'mistake' to follow him home. 

There'd be great scope for a cinematic essay on this theme, wouldn't there, the theme of perfect-looking families that are anything but. I'm sure we could come up with a dozen more examples if we had more time.

Anyway, Curtis LaForche and his family live in a lovely house in Ohio. His well-paid job as the foreman at a drilling operation site allows his wife Samantha what we call the 'luxury' of being able to be a stay-at-home Mom to their deaf daughter Hannah.

As the stay-at-home mother to a special needs child myself, I can assure you that it's anything but 'luxurious,' lol. Unless you'd consider constantly leaving the house looking like a trash-pile because you're never allowed five minutes' peace to get ready 'luxurious.' Oh yeah, it's all high glamour, this job...!

Still, I have my writing to keep me going and Samantha has her needlework. She produces gorgeous little items like embroidered cushions and pillows to sell at her booth at a craft fair every Saturday morning, to which she can take her daughter Hannah along.

It's good that Samantha has something to do on Saturdays because her hubby Curtis has a weekend project to get busy with now too. He's building a storm shelter on their property or, more correctly, he's extending their existing storm shelter into a big old kick-ass tornado shelter with lighting and plumbing and a fully-stocked kitchen as well.

What's the deal with going overboard on the storm shelter, you might ask? What was wrong with the old shelter, and why isn't it sufficient? You might well ask. Curtis has recently been witness to strange weather patterns and bizarre bird behaviour that no-one else around him seems to notice. Strange, that, and worrying too.

In addition, Curtis has been having the most disturbing nightmares about an impending storm, the apocalyptic storm to end all apocalyptic storms, and these dreams feel very much like premonitions to Curtis.

In the dreams, Hannah is abducted from him by unknown forces, he himself is savagely
attacked by their own dog Red and even his wife Samantha is a threat to him. He feels physically sick and feverish when he wakes from these dreams, and once he even wets the bed.

When he wakes up from these nightmares, sweating and gasping for air, he always sits bolt upright in the bed to let us know that we've just been watching a dream sequence. I never do that myself when I wake up from a nightmare. I just lie in bed sniffling and snuffling under the covers, hoping fervently that the demons of my night-mind will go away soon so I can get back to sleep. It's nice and safe under the duvet. You lose that safety when you sit up.

Mind you, people in films are weird. They're always doing stuff in films that wouldn't be practical in real life, such as arranging to meet someone without naming a time, a place or even a bloody day. People are just supposed to be mind-readers, are they?

And people in films always slam down their laptops in a hurry without going through the specific process known as 'shutting down,' say when they've been caught masturbating to porn or something. If I did that to my computer, just slamming it down like that without going through 'shutting down,' it literally wouldn't talk to me again for a week.

Anyway, Curtis forces himself to go to a counsellor to talk about the dreams, something you can tell is very hard for him to do because he's normally the strong silent type. He even gets out books on mental illness from the library and studies up on them.

An over-reaction? You might think so, but Curtis has very strong reasons for doubting his sanity that are all tied up with his mother, who's still alive but fragile and residing in an assisted living facility. And in the meantime, he steps up his efforts to build the tornado shelter that serves as the only bulwark standing between Curtis's little family and the storm he's convinced is coming.

He becomes obsessed with building the shelter. He takes out a bank loan to finance its building without consulting Samantha, who freaks out completely because they've already got loans out and bills to repay. 

I can certainly see her point. A loan like that that you can't repay could jeopardise the financial- and emotional- stability of the whole family. It's bad enough worrying about not being able to pay the mortgage repayments on your home without having to fret over home improvement loans as well. 

They've also got to pay for Hannah's upcoming cochlear implant surgery, which might enable the little girl to hear again. This surgery is the most important thing in the world to Samantha right now, not the stupid tornado shelter which she sees as a ridiculous waste of time, effort and money. The marriage is falling apart due to Curtis's seemingly bizarre actions and his stubborn unwillingness- or inability- to communicate.

He borrows heavy machinery from his work to build his shelter, which costs him his job and his best friend Dewart. Everyone is worried about Curtis. His wife, his daughter, his boss, his best friend Dewart, Dewart's wife Nat, Curtis's doctor, everyone who knows him.

If the town didn't think that Curtis was crazy before, well, they sure will after after a certain mortifying Lions' Club supper in the town hall. Then one night, a storm comes. Curtis hurries his frightened little family down into the shelter...

So, is Curtis crazy as a loon or is there really an end-of-the-world type storm coming? Or is the whole thing all in his mind, the sypmtoms of a brain under severe stress? Is he showing signs of the terrible illness that claimed his mother's mind, or does he really have the gift of foresight that showed him the upcoming storm before it happened? Well, I'm not telling, but you'll love the answer.

The ending is just right. It's not a cop-out. It simply delivers, in a masterclass of pacing and understated acting, the pay-off it's been promising throughout the movie. This is the best movie I think I've seen all year. Y'all would be nuts not to watch it too.

Limited Edition packaging (2000 units)
Building The Shelter – A new interview with director Jeff Nichols
2011 Ebertfest Q&A with Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon
DP30 interview with Jeff Nichols, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain
Interview with Jeff Nichols at Cannes Film Festival
2011 Toronto Film Festival interviews with Jeff Nichols, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain
Deleted Scenes
Limited 40 page perfect bound booklet with new writing by Michael Brooke and Film School Rejects interview
with Jeff Nichols by Jack Giroux
English subtitles for the hearing impaired

Title: Take Shelter: Limited Edition Box Set Release Date: 3 September 2018
Cat.No.: 2NDBR4083 RRP: £24.99
Cert: 15 Running Time: 121 mins

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain's 'Take Shelter' arrives on UK Blu-ray as a Deluxe Limited Edition Box-set on 3rd September 2018 courtesy of SECOND SIGHT FILMS!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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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