The year of 2016 has been the year of the horror movie. It has had highly anticipated sequels (Conjuring 2), dramatic, tension filled stories (Don’t Breathe, Lights Out) and films that have no right to be good that were (Ouija 2).
Unfortunately, if 2016 is truly the year of the horror movie, then Shut In is the outlier here. It should have been pushed back until January 2017 so Shut In doesn’t hurt the overall year perception. Plus, January is where they dump all those crappy horror movies that are ridiculous.
Naomi Watts plays Mary, the step-mother of Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who was paralyzed in the same accident that killed his father. Worse than just paralyzed, Stephen seemed to be completely mentally gone as well. Mary had to feed, bathe and care for every last detail of Stephen’s life.
Mary is also a child psychologist, who has been working with other young boys out of her home, isolated in the woods. One young boy, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), who is apparently deaf, comes to her house and then disappears. She worries that he has run into the woods and will freeze to death. A terrible winter storm is on its way, but no one can find Tom.
It is at this point where Mary begins to hear sounds and see strange things happening around the house. She has been Skyping with her friend Dr. Wilson (Oliver Platt) whom she confides her concerns in. He, of course, dismisses her worries as some strange sleep disorder.
Honestly, Shut In is terrible. It has all the horror genre’s worst traits and tropes. The worst thing is when Mary starts doing really stupid things. I had to restrain myself from yelling at the screen several times as she did stupid thing after stupid thing. Truly, if she had listened to me the first time, no one would have died in this movie. When the characters in a horror movie have to be bumbling idiots for the story to work, then the writing is just too lazy. The plot here is just filled to the brim with stupidity.
That includes the third act “twist” reveal. I won’t spoil it here, but it completely tosses away anything that could have been considered positive from the first two acts. And, of course, it makes absolutely no sense. I’m not even sure it was plausible. If this were the real case, then Naomi Watts has to be the most ignorant child psychologists ever to be issued a license.
Jacob Tremblay is a very talented young actor, but he does nothing here. He has zero lines… his character being deaf… and this role could have been given to anyone. Not a brilliant young star fresh off his role in Room.
Yes, 2016 has seen its share of great horror movies, but that does not mean that every film from the year was a gem. This one is one of the worst horror movies this year.