Frightfest Review: Shut In/Intruders

This was originally published at The Edge SUSU on September 1st.

If you could capture the intangible essence of mediocrity, somehow find a way to store it, and then transfer it over to film, you would still have something more remarkable than Adam Schindler’s Shut In.

Seemingly intent on convincing you that you’re watching an R-rated Home Alone, the film centers on a person who finds themselves isolated in a house, begrudging their family and wishing to never speak to them, who then notices that burglars are breaking in, and tries to stop them via a convoluted set of traps. Also there’s a Culkin in it. Okay there’s obviously nothing new under the sun, and a home invasion film has to rest on some of those beats, but come on!

The central introvert here is Anna (Beth Riesgraf), who suffers from extreme agoraphobia and refuses to leave her house. This is intended to be the gimmick that sets the film apart, as Anna’s refusal to leave the house once the burglars attack is justified by her irrational fear. However the problem is, it has next-to-no impact on the story. All home-invasion films require the homeowner to be unable to leave, otherwise there’s no film. The justification for their inability to simply go outside is kind of a formality. Anna being agoraphobic doesn’t change the pace, structure or story beats of the home invasion film one bit. She still can’t leave. She still has to fight back. There’s just nothing new offered up by it.

Which is perhaps the best way of describing Shut In. Despite an attempt mid-way through to shake things up with a certain twist, it has nothing you haven’t seen before. All of which would be fine if it was particularly well executed, but again, the ordinary reigns supreme here. The writing is passable, the cast give so-so performances and it all looks fairly pedestrian in the cinematography and editing department. It can’t even commit to some spectacular violence. It’s just some fairly tame hammer bashing and shootings.

Shut In is almost the antithesis of Hellions. It never dares to do anything different, never reaches for anything above ‘just fine’. It doesn’t even have the decency to throw in demonic llamas. Add to all of this a run-time that feels drawn out (despite only being 90 minutes), populated exclusively by unsympathetic characters and there’s really no reason to put yourself through this one.

RATING: 4/10-A film that somehow manages to be more average than average. 

Shut In (2015), directed by Adam Schindler, is released in the UK by Eagle Films Certificate 15. Full details of all of the films showing at Film4 FrightFest can be found here.  

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