When you have taken something of a sabbatical from watching movies there is a decision to be made on what you should watch first. You could watch something with emotional depth that will leave you thinking differently about the world long after the final credits. Or you could watch something that allows you to zone out completely and be part of an exhilarating on-screen ride.
If, however, you are a glutton for punishment like myself, you could watch something like Shelter.
To put it bluntly, Shelter is a shocker and it will have you looking at tasks like that pile of ironing to be done or alphabetising your books much more favourably. Yep, it really is that bad.
The plot involves troubled forensic psychiatrist Cara (Julianne Moore, Magnolia, Hannibal). We know she is troubled as she sits in a bar on her own, drinking copious shots of tequila. She is working on a case introduced by her father, Dr Harding (Jeffrey DeMunn, The Mist, The Walking Dead), involving a patient, David (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Mission Impossible III), who has multiple personalities. As if this case was not bad enough, Cara is still grieving over the murder of her husband and looking after her daughter, Sammy and having to cope with brother Stephen (Nathan Corddry).
More on him later.
It is difficult to pinpoint just why this one fails so badly; a much shorter discussion would be on what works effectively in it. The movie has the look and feel of a substandard episode of The X Files. Even this assessment might be generous though, as this is a case that Agent Mulder would probably resolve during his coffee break.
The action is woeful and scares are nowhere to be found. The “boo! tactic” is used all too often here and these moments are so telegraphed there is no way that anyone could be frightened at all. Any scene that shows a glimpse of promise is abruptly destroyed with a cut to a more mundane moment, usually involving someone driving. This is a case of really poor directing and in Shelter’s case that means we can blame two people – Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein. Screenwriter Michael Cooney was the man behind Identity. Anyone who has seen that knows they can expect some twists, and like that movie, the more effort that is made to complicate the plot, the worse Shelter gets.
Here at AndyErupts, we rate Julianne Moore highly and look forward to seeing her work in the upcoming Carrie remake – here she is playing a role well beneath her. In the final scene her facial expressions alone demonstrate her accomplished acting skills but this is not a particularly memorable character. I like the Jonathan Rhys Meyers I saw in the BBC drama series The Tudors; sadly this is more like the dude who poses in the aftershave commercials. None of the characters Rhys Meyers plays are that interesting – although the role of “David” allows him to try out his best Matthew McConaughey impression. He just isn’t a menacing enough presence on the screen and you always feel confident that that the tequila drinking Cara will get the better of him.
Standing out for all the wrong reasons is the character Stephen – the kind of guy that can match ZombieDave for the dubious title of worst babysitter in the world, as he curses and watches horror movies in front of a young child. Unfortunately for him, watching Night of The Living Dead and listening to Joy Division is not enough to make him a cool guy. He is an irritant throughout and the less said about his brand of “humour” the better. Poor Cara must be wondering why her husband was murdered and not this clown instead. Equally annoying is Jeffrey DeMunn – I don’t know what movie he thinks he is in with his vacant, wide-eyed expressions and his gormless grinning, but it only adds to the numbing pain of this thoroughly miserable 112 minutes’ viewing.
Like the majority of the characters featured in Shelter, you too will be requiring therapy if you choose to watch this drivel.