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'Shut In'

Naomi Watts stars as a child psychologist living in an isolated New England farmhouse in "Shut In."

“Shut In” would entertain you, possibly, if:

• You have seen only one or two thrillers in your entire life.

• You have never experienced a movie in a theater before (hey, you can’t beat the smell of theater popcorn).

• You long to be somewhere other than where you’re supposed to be, a theater is your only choice for a hideout and you can remain hidden only 91 minutes.

• You simply must see every film starring Naomi Watts and/or Oliver Platt

• You enjoy giggling at insipid films.

In a year that offered a lot of entertaining horror/thriller films, this is one of the weakest. Even the setup can be anticipated within the first five minutes.

Watts is Dr. Mary Portman, a child psychologist, who is saying goodbye to her husband and step-son Stephen (Charlie Heaton, television’s “Stranger Things.”) Stephen’s dad is driving him to a boarding school because the young man is filled with rage.

Stephen’s father dies in the accident. Now it’s only the paralyzed Stephen, who gives no indication of awareness, and his step-mother who live in a gorgeous, isolated New England home, with an outbuilding serving as her office.

One of Mary’s patients is Tom (Jacob Tremblay, “Room,”) who faces a fate similar to Stephen’s. He has behavioral issues and he also is deaf. Mary feels sorry for the boy, whom she truly likes and who slowly shows signs of improvement. Soon he disappears during a terrible storm and is presumed to be dead.

Mary feels guilty that the boy, whom she tried to befriend, may have been killed by the elements. She continues to take good care of Stephen, whom she feeds and bathes. Dream sequences reveal that, subconsciously, she wishes she could put a violent end to her caretaking.

Platt plays a psychiatrist (much like his role on television’s “Chicago Med.”) As a professional and Mary’s friend, he tries to help her cope with her isolation and responsibilities.

Mary begins to wonder whether she’s losing her mind. She sees what appears to be the shape of a small boy in the middle of the night, and also begins to hear strange sounds.

Not surprisingly, the performances all are laudable. What a waste of talent in a sub-par flick.

The last part of the show is laughable in its contrivances. Fans of “The Shining” will howl while the plot devolves into a lackluster rip-off of the horror classic, complete with chase scenes and sequences that involve an ax.

If you have a cozy home, don’t waste your time and money going out to see this drivel.


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.