ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 11, 2016
By Steve Newton
Naomi Watts has won some and lost some as far as her lead roles in horror flicks go. She hit a home run in Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of the Japanese spooker The Ring, but didn’t fare so well amidst Daniel Craig and the ghostly goings-on in 2011’s Dream House. (We won’t count 1996’s Children of the Corn: The Gathering, since it went straight to video, and we haven’t seen it anyway, having steered clear of COTC sequels ever since 1993’s execrable Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.)
With Shut In, the Oscar-nominated actress (for 2003’s 21 Grams and 2012’s The Impossible) can’t connect in any real way with her role as Mary Portman, a deeply troubled widow, child psychologist, and stepmom. Mind you, she doesn’t get much help from first-time screenwriter Christina Hodson, who–apart from one big plot twist–keeps things totally predictable. (Gee, I wonder if that creepy dude forcing himself onto that resisting woman will get kneed in the nuts?)
The movie opens with Watts saying a tearful goodbye to her stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton of Netflix’ Stranger Things) before the pissed-off teen is driven away to a school for problem kids. But a horrific accident enroute leaves her husband dead and Stephen paralyzed from the neck down and unresponsive, the guilt-ridden Mary forced to care for him in their remote Maine home while running her psychologist’s practice next door. She suffers terrible nightmares and daydreams–including one where she tries drowning Stephen in the bathtub–before things get really hairy with the mysterious disappearance of her deaf patient Tom (10-year-old Vancouver-born Jacob Tremblay, who was so amazing in last year’s Room.)
Oliver Platt is typical Oliver Platt as know-it-all therapist Dr. Wilson, who tries to help Mary cope with her worsening emotional and mental state, but there’s not all that much he can do over Skype. His online presence does coincide with the introduction of the film’s big twist, though, which perks up the previously staid storyline momentarily, before a storm of scary-movie clichés buries it good and deep.