TADFF ’15 Review: Shut In

Shut In is a suspense tale that centers on a young woman named Anna (Beth Riesgraf). A severe agoraphobic, Anna has known only the confines of her family home since her father passed ten years ago. After the death of her terminally ill brother, Anna faces a critical episode where she fails to overcome her struggle in order to attend his funeral. Unbeknownst to her, a group of local thugs planning on her absence decide to break into the house, seeking out the family’s secret fortune that was tipped off to them by Anna’s acquaintance (Rory Culkin). Once they discover she’s still home, things quickly start to spiral out of control, both for Anna and the hapless trio of robbers.

What makes Shut In interesting is that it takes a unique spin on the typical home invasion subgenre. After certain secrets are revealed about Anna’s past, the cat-and-mouse game between her and the thugs is turned on its head, at which point the film really hits its stride. Before the unexpected twist, Shut In features several cliches of the captive trope – the trio of robbers, for example, (one’s the leader, one’s the sympathetic one, one’s the psychopath) fit the typical pattern that we’ve seen done in films like Panic Room and Hostage. These tropes are believable to varying degrees, with Martin Starr’s role as the resident psycho being the furthest from credible. Anna herself however is the bright point of the film; while her character isn’t particularly well thought-out, Riesgraf’s acting is genuine, and every part of her performance perfectly sells you on the character.

While Shut In has its moments of ingenuity, it’s a hard film to recommend. Both the first and third act of the film struggle to find their footing, with the third act being particularly rough in terms of shoehorning in details about Anna and her family that we were better off not knowing. The convoluted nature of some of the gimmicks Anna has in store for the thugs is hard to swallow, and ultimately pulls you out of the film. And while many attempts are made to push familiar buttons in order to make Anna a sympathetic character, even with Riesgraf’s performance, along with her struggles with both her anxiety and complicated past, there just isn’t enough there to connect with the audience. Those looking for a good scare would be best served to revisit some old classics of the genre, and leave Shut In out in the cold.

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Fun Factor
Final Thoughts

A unique attempt at twisting the cat-and-mouse genre that falls apart in terms of story and scares.

Overall Score 2.7

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