Friday, March 2, 2012

Take Shelter (2011)

Fear 3/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

Take Shelter is the most emotionally moving film watching experience I've had thus far this year. While not technically a horror film (it does have some scares and some genuinely terrifying moments), I do like to bring attention to some different films every now and then. This gripping story will keep you glued and anxiety riddled for much of its run time as you question the mental conditions of the central character and if he is, in fact, going completely out of his mind.

Curtis is a simple, blue collar family man. He has a loving wife and a special needs daughter, both of which adore him immensely. Despite the drain of being the sole provider, he doesn't complain about it despite comments from a co-worker who wonders aloud how he does it: manual labor at an essentially thankless job, being a loving husband and a caring father to a girl who needs special attention. None of that really seems to phase him and it becomes apparent that he is just as content as content can be with the life he is leading.

But things grow worrisome for him as he has recurring nightmares of a storm of the century, rolling through town, and creating havoc. In one of his dreams, he envisions his dog attacking him. Things start off subtly with regards to his metal faculties as he builds a fence enclosure and places the dog inside it along with a doghouse. At first, the wife questions it but doesn't worry too much when he claims it's just a dog and dogs belong outside. However, with his dreams growing in number and his night terrors becoming more violent (including instances of wetting the bed) his wife grows rightfully more concerned.

Despite advice from a doc to travel out of town to see a shrink, he instead visits a local counselor who doesn't do much to ease his mind. He later makes a trip out to his elderly mother who's living in an assisted living facility. Upon visiting her, we are painted a much bigger picture. One of mental illness and fears that he himself may be headed down the same path that claimed his mother.

Things come to a boiling point when he takes out a loan against his home to improve his storm shelter out back, tricking it up and putting all of the necessary safety features in place that will ensure the protection of his family should the 'big' one hit. Just when the townspeople have all called him crazy and his wife is at her wits end, a storm rolls through town and he thinks this is it. They take refuge in the shelter and despite his insistence that the big one is rolling through creating havoc, it is nowhere near as decimating as his mind had conceived. However, shortly thereafter, things come to a heartbreaking yet beautiful end. I won't say how but I will say that it will leave you in complete awe.

With fine acting propelling this feature, it really should have received some more notoriety within the film awards community. Anchored by wonderful performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter is an intense and gripping dramatic thriller. This is one to be celebrated and watched time and time again.

Cortez the Killer


The Film Connoisseur said...

We totally agreed on this one, a gripping, tense, suspenseful film. It's filled with this ominous feeling all through out, in a way it reminded of Donnie Darko which had a similar vibe of dream/reality and all around strangeness.

Michael Shannon is a great actor, I hope he continues a long and fruitful career, his got an intensity to him that works great in films like this one and Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?, if your interested in that last one, I wrote a review for it a while ago if you want to check it out.

Planet of Terror said...

Thanks for the recommendation TFC, I'll have to check that one out. Agreed, Michael Shannon deserves such a career and I hope to see him in more works.

Anonymous said...

One of the worst most ridiculous films i've ever seen! truly hideous and the film never really went anywhere....long, drawn out , morose and boring! And the point was?? it never made one. Just goes to show that anyone, including critics who liked this stupid film has their taste in their mouth...who wants to watch crap like this?

Planet of Terror said...

Wow anonymous. Thoughtful and insightful commentary. Really compelling stuff.