This fall, it looks like horror fans can expect to see a lot of blonde mothers battle their own psyches. Earlier this month we saw the first trailer for The Disappointments Room, starring Kate Beckinsale. Now Shut In, an English-language production from France’s EuropaCorp company, has stepped up to the plate. The film follows a child psychologist, Mary, (Naomi Watts) who believes she is being haunted by her former foster child (Room star Jacob Tremblay).
Unlike Disappointments Room‘s relatively banal preview, the trailer for Shut In reveals much about the film’s plot, as well as its psychological complexity. Plus, it really ropes you in when Naomi Watts tries to kill her son within the first fifteen seconds.
Shut In was directed by Brit Farren Blackburn (Doctor Who, Daredevil) and produced by Luc Besson (writer-producer of the Taken trilogy). The film also stars Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon, The West Wing), David Cubitt (Bates Motel, Arrow), and Charlie Heaton – who you probably recognized immediately as Jonathan Byers from Stranger Things. Though principal production went under way in Canada last spring, the film’s release has been delayed several times.
Leading lady Naomi Watts is certainly no stranger to the horror/thriller genre. The British actress hit it big with David Lynch’s haunting 2001 project Mulholland Drive, then went on to star in the American remake of The Ring in 2002, as well as its sequel in 2004. Though she has since expanded her repertoire, Watts is still a favorite in the genre, appearing in films like Funny Games and Dream House.
This is a most intriguing trailer, one whose eerie narrative feels reminiscent of another European film: Spain’s The Orphanage (El orfanato). Like Shut In, The Orphanage depicted a mother whose psyche unravels as she is haunted by the ghost of her lost child. What’s interesting about the premise set up in this trailer for Shut In is that Watts’ character uses Tom, the foster child who disappears, to supplement the “loss” of her still-living son, Steven. Steven was in a car accident – the same one that killed his father and Mary’s husband – and is now catatonic and disabled. Mary’s sense of loss, then, is multi-layered: she feels disconnected from her son, then is unable to protect her foster son. It’s unclear whether this grief is the driving force behind her nightmarish visions or whether Tom is a real ghost, but it’s that tense uncertainty that makes this movie’s premise so intriguing.
At the same time, that sense of loss may be misplaced. The script, penned by Christina Hodson, made it onto the Black List of best un-produced scripts before being picked up. So, though we can expect the film will be well-written, something that’s not so clear is whether it will gracefully depict Steven’s disabilities. That the preview opens with Mary referring to Steven as “not my son…just a body that I feed and wash and clothe,” while she dreams about killing him is certainly cause for concern. The film’s title could also refer to “locked-in syndrome,” a disability which leaves the patient catatonic and paralyzed.
Viewers are more conscious of discrimination against disabled people in film, especially after this summer’s Me Before You drummed up controversy, so it’s in studios’ best interests to tread carefully. Perhaps the point of the film, though, will be to show Mary that she hasn’t really “lost” her living son – who is, after all, still a person – and shouldn’t try to replace him.
Shut In hits U.S. theaters on November 11, 2016.
Source: USA Today