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Shelter (2010)

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Plot Summary:
"A female forensic psychiatrist discovers that all of one of her patient's multiple personalities are murder victims. She will have to find out what's happening before her time is finished."

Reviewer: Ian Martin @IzzleMizzle
Location:Cornwall, UK
Review Date: 13 October 2010 My Rating: out of 5


Shrink Julianne Moore dismisses multiple personality disorder as a myth, but her father introduces her to a young patient with such an extreme form of the condition that he takes on different, genuine disabilities with each alter ego. It is a psychological suspense thriller of two halves and the film has a real feeling of schizophrenia, not just from Meyer's lead character but it's direction from Swedish duo Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, the first half is tense and gripping, the second half becomes more action and fabled story telling.

Julianne Moore and Jonathon Rhys Meyers are both very commendable in this movie and deliver very believable performances for a film that demands you make a lot of allowances in terms of realism. There is a lot of development in the first half of the movie that might make the film seem quite slow for some viewers. When the mystery is revealed it is surprising but even given the careful build up you might still have to make an effort to suspend your disbelief.

Shelter’s biggest problem is that it seems to be suffering the same problem as its main plot device. Similar to Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the film, Shelter seems to be suffering from some kind of multiple personality disorder. It doesn’t quite know what type of film it wants to be. It starts off as a very credible psychological thriller, and then after a series of dramatic twists and turns, it becomes a very clumsy supernatural horror. The supernatural element works well to explain everything in the film, but its execution just feels awkward. Too many elements are thrown into the mix – taking on faith healing, hillbilly magic, soul-sucking – that the film’s big reveal just comes across as inept.

There’s a workable horror film struggling to get out of Shelter. Very reminiscent of some great J-horror classics such as the ring, only with a western spin, Shelter had a lot of potential. The story is good, and the performances very convincing. But as is often the case with films, at least with regard to Shelter’s plot, too many cooks simply spoil the broth.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 14 April 2010 My Rating: out of 5

Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers star in this eerie chiller from the producer of The Ring and the writer of Identity and it’s a very effective supernatural thriller.

Cara Jessup (Moore), who describes herself as a doctor of science but a woman of faith, is a criminal psychologist whose expert and respected views on multiple personality disorders in several high profile murder cases, has resulted in the death sentence. Despite witnessing her husband’s murder whilst walking home from church on Christmas Eve, she is unwilling to give up on God, even although her young daughter Sammy and her father already have.

Following another high profile case, Cara receives a phone call from her father, a respected psychologist himself, who wants her opinion on a new patient of his. She begrudgingly obliges and what she encounters will shatter her beliefs and her family. David (Meyers) was found by the police, taken to hospital and eventually sent for psych evaluation. Everything seems pretty routine until Cara’s father phones through to the evaluation room and asks David if Adam is there. It soon becomes clear that David is far from ordinary as he inhabits multiple personalities and they are all murder victims. As Cara tries to disprove his MPD, it soon becomes clear that something far more sinister is at work.

I really enjoyed this film. It’s a bit of a slow burner but it is chock full of character development, atmosphere and is driven by a compelling story. Moore and Meyers are well cast and are backed up by a solid supporting cast including Jeffrey DeMunn, Nathan Corddry and Frances Conroy.

The film looks great. There are lots of moody, atmospheric shots with lots of dark blues, browns and greens present. The editing is well handled with minimal use of jump cutting and booming sound effects (thankfully) and the whole affair seems to have been created with good intentions.

A well crafted film which takes its time to tell us its story. I’m glad it didn’t pander to teenagers and try to be PG-13 CGI scary. It might not do terribly well in cinemas due to its low key nature, but I hope it finds a larger audience on DVD later this year, as I feel it’s well worth a look.

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