Director: Adam Schindler
Cast: Beth Riesgraf, Martin Starr, Rory Culkin, Leticia Jimenez, Jack Kesy
Running Time: 90 minutes
It’s always a welcome surprise when a film flies so under the radar to register – even for a devoted film critic and journalist like myself – that when you cast eyes on it, the Pandora’s box such a thrilling experience that you’d be happy to sit throughout all again immediately afterwards.
Having recently lost her brother to a long battle with cancer, agoraphobic Anna (a terrific icy turn from Riesgraf) struggles to attend his funeral in the face of her fears. Believing the home to be empty during this time, and sensing a major money haul, a trio of opportunistic criminals (which includes the hilarious Martin Starr fantastically playing against type) break into her house. Only Anna cannot bring herself to leave, even with the deadly threat these intruders bring. But Anna hides a secret, and it’s one this band of bandits are going to live to regret learning.
Despite the simple set-up, SHUT IN is all kinds of fucked-up fun with first time feature director Adam Schindler delivering a throughly entertaining thrill ride. One that is never dull and never predictable. Something that is becoming all the more rare within the confines of this crazy genre. It’s a cleverly woven thriller with a heart, albeit a twisted one, boasting solid performances and is a project which deserves to be a given a great deal of attention when released early next year.
Admittedly, SHUT IN, which when glancing at the cool artwork within the pages of the Frightfest programme guide, initially had me worried. The fact the selling point is, “From the Executive Producers of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS,” always sets the alarm bells ringing. Possibly because I hated one and thought the other to be mediocre at best. But let me just state this, SHUT IN is way better than both – and not just because of the aforementioned fun factor.
You can see Schindler and his writers, T.J. Cimfel and David White have great affection for the genre. Like all good young filmmakers their influences are there for all to see. Perhaps rather appropriately coming on the weekend of the sad death of horror master Wes Craven, there is an element of his underrated, dysfunctional comic-horror THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS oozing out of these wicked walls.
Few home invasion horrors bring the same amount of gleefully sadistic charm (although the recent and superior Kiwi comic-horror HOUSEBOUND springs to mind) and SHUT IN feels very much part of the same gnarly neighbourhood.