‘Shelter’ Movie Review: a Disappointing Horror

As soon as I came across it, the poster of ‘Shelter’ took a hold of me. Besides the pain of not treating myself to any adequate horror movies in quite a while and the eerie ambience in the poster, the cast of the movie, with Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Frances Conroy, Jeffrey DeMunn and others in some of the lead roles, tempted me.

Being an avid horror movie fan who browses the net looking for new and upcoming flicks in his spare time, I did know a bit about the Swedish directors of the movie, Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, through some of their works like ‘the Befallen’, ‘Storm’ and others.

Telling myself that it could very well be a unique experience like watching ‘The Ring’, ‘Grudge, ‘Saw’ and ‘Quarantine’ for the very first time, I began watching it. Boy, was I wrong!

The first half an hour of the movie was impeccable with Julianne Moore doing a great job as the ever sceptical Cara Harding, a forensics psychiatrist who basically thinks that ‘split personalities’ are hogwash. However, her psychiatrist father, played by a brilliant Jeffrey DeMunn, makes her think twice by having her take a look at his patient, David, played by Rhy Meyers.

David, found by Dr Harding out on the streets, talks with a Southern accent and is wheelchair-ridden. When asked by Cara about the house and the area he lives in, he describes a lone pious household in a normal mountain community.

Finding everything normal with him, Cara asks her dad what was so special about this patient, later. That is when Dr Harding calls David on the phone and asks him to put Adam on, while Cara and he observes him (David) from this side of the glass. A seeming transformation occurs, as Rhys Meyers character writhes, with sound effects that seems to be ripped directly from a Japanese horror, and the personality of Adam, a youth with an urban accent that can walk rather well, takes over to answer the phone.

The background of the patient remains a mystery that Cara wants to solve. She ventures to the small mountain community where David said he hails from and finds out from David’s mother that David was murdered, around when Adam could not have been more than five years.

The movie does well to this point as Meyers should receive a pat on his back due to his accents and the varying characters he portrays, as new personalities take him over every ten minutes as the death toll continues to rise. Even the character development for Cara, Dr Harding and Cara’s little girl, Sammy, are commendable.

The script goes downhill from here on. The special effects look like sequences taken out of ‘The Ring’ while the script seems to be a tweak on ‘The Grudge’. Characters are thrown into the script out of nowhere while the lines and most shots seem totally cliched.

The climax is like most horrors where the lead character is trying to save the most important person in her life from the evil and, almost indomitable, spirit.

The conclusion tries to do some justice as Sammy, who was dead just a few scenes back, breathes again. At the final scene, as Cara hugs her little girl lovingly, Sammy glares at the camera just like Adam, signifying the transfer of his spirit into her body. Although through this the director duo probably wanted to leave scope for a sequel, I sincerely doubt that the audiences would walk into the theatres for that, after this debacle.