10 April 2010

'Shelter' Under Your Coat Or Away From Bad Direction?

At an unusual time of year a supernatural thriller akin to The Ring is released which naturally draws me to it.  Could it work?  First of all, yes, Shelter is like The Ring.  That is it has pointless cut aways and sudden close-ups just to try to build tension or make you jump, so it's quite frustrating.  The underlying story and what they are trying to do will be appreciated by fans of Ringu, the original Japanese masterpiece, despite the occasional ham-fisted way they go about directing it.  A quick overview of the film is Julianne Moore is a doctor of psychology who has disproved a murderer claiming to have genuine multiple Personality Disorder.  Then someone she occasionally works with (who happens to be her father, can't remember his name, so let's use Foxtrot for F, as in father), invites her to review a patient for him.  Foxtrot guy doesn't tell the Doctor all the info about this patient in advance and she discovers seemingly impossible things about him little by little, each time coming up with possible explanations.  There is one really interesting scene where (let's just abbreviate it further) Fox is playing basketball and the red-haired female Doctor storms in and a little exchange takes place where Fox tells her she has to open her mind to the possibilities of the world beyond the limits of her current scientific knowledge.  I think I've seen this somewhere before...  Was this something I made..?  :-)

Going in to see this film prep'ed with this information will probably help you enjoy it more despite some plot holes and questionable decisions by the characters.  The opening half an hour does swerve from place to place and I was unsure where they were trying to go with the film until it finally settled down with the story it wants to tell.  The acting from Jonathan as the patient in question is quite good although I wasn't impressed with the performance Julianne put in.  There are quite a few times where suspension of disbelief just falls apart and the film just feels too much like The Fourth Kind after you find out it's all fiction.  Despite all the criticism above, if you treat it as homage to the great show mentioned above, you can not only get through the film but also leave feeling pleased and mostly positive about the whole experience.  I even laughed with happiness...!

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