Dirs: Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein. US. 2010. 112mins
The nicely chilling Shelter offers effective thrills as it revels in some chilling visuals and suitably enthusiastic lead performances by Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, though it never totally convinces as a fully-fledged horror film. It opens April 9 in the UK through Icon Film Distribution, though no firm US date has yet been set.
The smart special effects help build a suitably disturbing and chilling atmosphere and there is no denying that Julianne Moore brings a sense of compassionate intelligence to her role.
The tight and intriguing trailer combined with the star draw of Moore and Meyers might help click with an audience looking for old-fashioned supernatural chills, though gore-loving hard-core horror fans will be disappointed.
Shelter marks the US production debut of Swedish co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (who made 2005 horror film Storm), and is scripted by Michael Cooney, who wrote Identity and The I Inside.
Julianne Moore – who has dabbled in genre films, such as The Forgotten, before – stars as Dr Cara Jessup, who has made a career of defying the notion of multiple personality disorders, acting as an expert witness in court cases. Her psychiatrist father introduces her to his new patient Adam (Meyers), and the more she unearths about him the more her life and those closest to her seems to be in danger.
The script veers from good old-fashioned multiple personality madness (allowing Jonathan Rhys Meyers to try out a variety of accents) through Jessup debating her faith in God (her husband was horrifically murdered) and on to a bit of witchcraft and faith healing. In the end it is a tale of possession that runs slightly out of steam, with a twist ending that many may see coming.
The smart special effects help build a suitably disturbing and chilling atmosphere and there is no denying that Julianne Moore brings a sense of compassionate intelligence to her role. But in the end Shelter feels a familiar and undemanding chiller that looks the part but never really delivers the hoped-for shocks.
Production companies: NALA Films, Macari/Edelstein Entertainment, Shelter Productions
UK Distribution: Icon Film Distribution/Paramount
Producers: Darlene Caamano Loquet, Emilio Diez Barroso, Mike Macari, Neil Edelstein
Screenplay: Michael Cooney
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren
Production designer: Tim Galvin
Editor: Steven Mirkovich
Music: John Frizzell
Main cast: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Frances Conroy, Jeffrey DeMunn, Brooklyn Proulx