Shellter is the type of film that reels you in, hook, line and sinker with both it's premise and lead characters. It's sick, it's twisted and it's delightfully demented. But just when you think you've got a perfect classic in the making, the rug is pulled out from underneath you as it falters at the end. It's like eating a bowlful of tasty soup only to find a dead fly at the bottom. It tarnishes the experience a bit.
Our story begins with a woman (named Zoey) who wakes up in a hospital bed. Only she's not in a hospital at all. The attending doctor (played maniacally well by William David Tullin) tells her that a widespread virus has infected the whole of humanity and it's his job, along with assistance from the military, to safeguard the uninfected in his underground research facility. We quickly come to learn that this isn't any normal research facility and we're exposed to the sick experimentations of one seriously deranged doctor.
From feeding his 'patients' feces and urine to survive, to feeding his nurse (who's had just about every orafice sewn or glued shut) through a tube inserted into her nose, to frontal lobe lobotamies and subsequent rapings, the mad doctor makes Dr. Hieter (from The Human Centipede) look like a choir boy. But it's not until a series of trials does it take for Zoey realize that she had better comply with this lunatic or her own fate might come into question.
Another woman soon awakens in the facility and the doctor hooks her up to a chair which is wired to a machine that administers electric shocks. He designs an experiment wherein Zoey must flip a charge switch and push a button to ignite it every time the poor woman answers a question incorrectly. It starts off easily enough and with a bit of nervous laughter. But when the woman begins to answer questions incorrectly and the resultant shocks become increasingly too much to handle, Zoey is pushed to the edge to continue on with the experiment. And she realizes that from here on out, completing actions such as this, will mean the difference between saving her own life or sacrificing someone else's. The point here being, (as the name of the title suggests with the addition of an extra 'L') that she becomes a shell of her former self with survival instincts and the will to do so completely taking over.
So after another series of infected make there way into the underground facility and are disposed of, you're left wondering 'why'? This doctor is obviously not there to find a cure or really safeguard those who aren't afflicted with the virus. I won't give away the 'why' of the film except to say that it fits within this modern, overly paranoid society we're currently living in. Plausible? Yes. But the way in which the doctor's (and his other cohorts) actions are justified comes off as awkward. The revelation is made in the midst of Zoey trying to escape her captors and the explanation comes off in haste, like the story needed to be wrapped up quickly with a neat bow. And as such, it feels clunky and dime store preacher-y.
A shame, because after the build-up and the genuinely disturbing trip taken thus far, the ending left the overall intent feeling flat when in fact, there was a greater point that was trying to be made a la Martyrs. A similar type of film that fared much better in conveying an overall message. Still, Shellter is worth a watch as it's more than just a senseless, torture porn type of a film. And the performance of Mr. Tullin is absolutely stellar.
You can rent the film for 30 days for a measly schmeasly $4.95 or you can purchase it for the price of a movie ticket ($9.95) over at IndieFlix: http://www.indieflix.com/film/shellter-31701/
Cortez the Killer
Shellter - Trailer
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