The 2016 film, Shut In, is yet another film in which Naomi Watts plays an intelligent woman who is forced to do stupid things because, otherwise, there would be no story.
This time, Watts is cast as Dr. Mary Portman, a psychologist who is taking care of her stepson, Stephen (Charlie Heaton). Stephen was left in a vegatative state by a tragic accident that not only killed Mary’s husband but which also totaled a brand new SUV. Mary and Stephen are in an isolated house so there’s no way anything could go wrong, right?
Mary has a lot on her mind. Not only does she have to take care of Stephen but she’s also starting to date again. Plus, one of her patients, a child named Tom (Jacob Tremblay), has disappeared. She’s worried about Tom. He disappeared near her house and no one has been able to find him. Mary occasionally thinks that she sees Tom but her psychologist (played by poor Oliver Platt, who looks embarrassed to be there) says that Mary is just seeing what she wants to see. And when two little hands come out of the darkness to keep Mary from entering a crawlspace, that’s just a coincidence, too.
Because it’s not like totally obvious, from the freaking start, that Tom is hiding out in her house.
Now, before anyone gets excited, this film does not feature Jacob Tremblay as an evil child who torments Naomi Watts. (Jacob Tremblay is 15 years old now, just in case you needed an excuse to feel old.) Instead, it turns out that Mary’s tormenter is….
Really, I have to give a spoiler alert before revealing the most obvious twist of all time? How is that fair?
Okay, fine. SPOILER ALERT! Stop crying, you babies.
Mary is being menaced by Stephen, who it turns out woke up from his coma long ago and is now faking his vegetative state. That seems like that would be a difficult thing to fake but, whatever. Anyway, it turns out that Stephen has really enjoyed having Mary all to himself and he’s not really happy about the idea of having to share her with Tom. So, Stephen’s idea is to trap Tom in the crawlspace and hold Mary hostage. Or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like Stephen’s really thought this out. Normally, that would be understandable because it takes a lot of planning to trap someone in a crawlspace while pretending to be in a coma. But Stephen spends all day lying around so he should have used that time to give a little more thought to his plan.
Eventually, Oliver Platt realizes that something strange is happening so he goes up the house to rescue her but — surprise! — Stephen kills him. Seriously, Oliver — you deserved better than this movie.
For that matter so does Naomi Watts. Watts is a good actress who can play both comedy and drama and yet, she keeps showing up in these movies where she basically spends the whole movie being held prisoner, either physically or mentally. She always does a good job in them and, when I first heard that Woman In The Window was being turned into a movie, she was my choice for the role played by Amy Adams but, still, Watts definitely deserves better than a by-the-numbers film like Shut In. Too often, the film requires Mary to act in a totally illogical, rather stupid manner. Watts does her best with the character but the script lets her down.
Along with being totally predictable, Shut In moves at a glacial pace. A lot of time is spent in an attempt to establish mood and atmosphere but again, the big twist is so obvious that no amount of mood and Kubrickian atmosphere is going to save it.. Shut In is a movie that very slowly takes us to exactly where we think it’s going to take us. Everyone involved deserved better.