Movie Review – The Shelter Is a Cold, Dark, Introspective Journey

December 13, 2016

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG


The Shelter

Written and Directed byJohn Fallon

Featuring – Michael Paré, Lauren Alexandra, Amy Wickenheiser, Rachel G. Whittle

This is the story of a man named Thomas, and whether it’s rock bottom or the bottom of a bottle, this man is quite familiar with the concept of being lower than low. However this wasn’t always the kind of life he knew. Once he had a loving wife, a good job, a nice home and a daughter on the way. Now he lives as an aimless, homeless wanderer, getting by on the small kindnesses that others will afford him – whether he deserves them or not.

Refusing to seek refuge at a local shelter, Thomas walks around town until he comes across a house that seems to beckon to him. It would appear that whomever the house belongs to isn’t home, and fortunately for him (or is it?), a door just happens to be unlocked. He makes himself at home, believing himself to be the sole occupant, but eventually he begins to suspect he might not actually be alone.

Is Thomas going to fall victim to torment from entities residing within the house or are the ghosts and demons in question ones that follow him everywhere he goes?

What John Fallon has created with The Shelter is not what one might consider traditional horror story, rather it’s the kind of horror one who is harboring feelings of guilt and regret might experience. After all, the pain and darkness one feels within can be the most horrifying of all. Fallon could be trying to say that rock bottom may not actually be the furthest one can reach when they fall.It’s dark and introspective, and has a very Twilight Zone feel about it. I could very easily imagine this story being sandwiched between a Rod Serling intro and epilogue. But given that this is a film and not a TV episode, I would like to have seen a little more fleshed out story. Perhaps dig a little deeper into Thomas’ back story and private life, even prolong and intensify the torment throughout his night in the house. Expose more of his inner demons so we as an audience have a clearer picture as to what brought him to this point.

While the cast did consist of more than just Michael Paré, the weight of the film did rest predominantly upon his shoulders, as he did have a lot of solo screen time. The supporting cast did offer up some solid and serviceable performances, for the most part, helping to provide just enough necessary background.

Pare did a fine job of portraying a man who has to look up in order to see people who have hit rock bottom. He is also able to make the transition from a man who has nothing back to a man who has plenty to live for, very well. It’s seems likely that much of his character’s motivation is self serving, even the idea of repentance isn’t to right wrongs of his transgressions against others; rather it’s a sacrifice as a means to suit his own ends.

The visual styling of the film overall was pretty good. Shot framing and composition were well done. as was the editing. In the interior of the house, everything was bathed in blue and any lighting was very low key. It gave this particular setting a very cold and somber feeling.  Even in a room where lamp light should be sufficient for said room to be properly, it seemed as if the cold blue tone and shadows were creeping in and swallowing up the light.

As I previously said, this would have made a great Twilight Zone episode, but as film it left me wanting more. Now, I mean that in a good way, because the idea definitely piqued my interest as to the further possibilities for this story were it to run longer than an hour and 16 minutes (including credits). I quite enjoy a movie where the lines of a character’s reality become blurred, and with a little more length of story they could have really messed with the sanity of Paré’s character. With this film serving as his feature directorial debut, I would like to see some future offerings from Fallon.  Until then I will conclude by giving The Shelter 6.5 /10.

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