Tuesday, 20 October 2015

SHUT IN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Misogynistic home invasion thriller - TADFF 2015

Shut In (2015)
Dir. Adam Schindler
Scr. T.J. Cimfel, David White
Starring: Beth Riesgraf, Rory Culkin, Martin Starr,
Jack Kesy, Joshua Mikel, Timothy T. McKinney, Leticia Jimenez

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There's very little reason to justify the existence of this appalling, morally repugnant thriller which details how an agoraphobic young woman defends herself against a brutal home invasion. Though one cannot fault the cast, all of whom valiantly offer solid performances, this is a film that's directed with a cold, efficient competence from a screenplay which skillfully creates one sordid twist after another, but in so doing, does not take away from the fact that nothing can absolve the entire enterprise of its mean-spiritedness.

In essence, a lot of skill has been poured into a work which purports to be both entertaining and provocative, but is finally, little more than a grotesque wad of misogynistic filth with blurry lines of morality throughout.

The filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it too. The first third of the movie is comprised of various acts of physical and psychological terror perpetrated against the young woman who has not left her home for some ten years. The final hour involves a reversal of fortunes wherein she taunts her aggressors and kills them one by one.

Sadly, the film resorts to utilizing rape and incest as a backdrop to the woman's fury, doing so by creating a backstory which justifies her behaviour in a sickening, knuckle-draggingly exploitative manner.

The filmmakers no doubt think they're very clever by hiding the fact that the woman was a longtime victim of her late father's repeated sexual abuse and that she's outfitted the old house with a series of secret rooms, passageways, booby traps and audio visual equipment, all once used to execute rapists, pedophiles and other criminally deviant scumbags.

However, the filmmakers don't hide it well enough. Almost from the beginning we know, from the broad-stroked hints, that her Pappy was fiddling with her as a child. As the film progresses, the house's accoutrements of incarceration and pain are revealed to suggest what she was up to and how she's a powerful enough adversary against the clutch of inbred home invaders.

That the film uses her perpetration of violence as the thing which cures and cleanses her isn't problematic per se, but rather the fact that it chooses to create a character whose sexual assaults at the hands of her Daddy are the thing which instigate her actions, all accompanied by some mild tut-tutting on the part of the filmmakers and ultimately, acceptance.

God knows I love a great thriller and horror film which can explore all manner of deviance, even if it resorts to tropes, but this is something else altogether. Shut In is the most horrendous example of a movie that exploits incest and rape to parcel out its "clever' story twists and dubious morality.

It's a movie that would better serve as incineration fodder.


Shut In has its Canadian premiere at TADFF 2015.