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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shut In is a thriller about a woman (Naomi Watts) who cares for her teenage stepson, left paralyzed and in a vegetative state after a car crash. While little blood is shown, there's plenty of violence, including fighting, bashing with blunt objects, stabbing, burning, etc. Characters die, and dead bodies are shown. A small boy is in jeopardy, and there are nightmare sequences, jump scares, and the suggestion of a car crash. Language includes one "f--k" and uses of "s--t." A naked woman gets out of a tub; her bottom is partly shown from the side. A woman is drugged with prescription pills, other prescription pills are shown, and characters drink wine at dinner.
What's the story?
In SHUT IN, clinical psychologist Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) lives with and cares for her vegetative, paralyzed stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who survived the accident that killed his father, Mary's husband. In her Maine office -- which is close to home, as she never wants to be too far from Stephen -- Mary treats a mostly deaf boy, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), and the news reports an ice storm on the way. At night, she hears noises; Tom has run away and broken into Mary's house. But as she makes a phone call, he runs away again and disappears. Soon, she starts hearing new noises and seeing things in the house. Mary's own psychologist, Dr. Wilson (Oliver Platt), begins to fear for her safety, just as the ice storm hits.
Is it any good?
This shockingly empty thriller has a great cast, but, while delivering its jump-scares, it completely ignores the story's looming, daunting psychological and emotional ramifications. It's difficult to discuss Shut In's biggest failures without giving away the plot, but let's just say that, when all is revealed, most audiences will simply shake their heads in disbelief, rather than clutch their seats in shock.
Otherwise, the movie, directed by Farren Blackburn (of Netflix's Daredevil), goes through the motions of clunky, obvious storytelling, with some clumsy references to The Shining and some sequences in which an ordinary person somehow has supernatural powers, able to sneak up on anyone, instantly, without making a sound. Characters endlessly search for things in the dark, and there are nightmare sequences and a few lazy jump-scares. Watts and Platt, both fine actors, give it their best shot, but you have to wonder why up-and-coming younger actors Heaton (from Netflix's Stranger Things) and Tremblay (Room) ever signed on to so pathetic a movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Shut In's violence. How does the relative lack of blood affect its impact? How does it feel seeing family members treat each other with careless violence?
Is the movie scary? What makes jump-scares effective?
How would you describe the relationship between Mary and her stepson?
The movie depicts teens as angry, rebellious, unsettled, and even violent. Is that realistic? Why or why not?
- In theaters: November 11, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 28, 2017
- Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton
- Director: Farren Blackburn
- Studio: EuropaCorp
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language