Shut In represents the worst that the horror/slasher/stalker/thriller genre(s) have to offer, but it's also lame in the way that is all too common to screen writing. It's got a hackneyed story that for the first two thirds is dull as dishwater - deathly serious when it should be interesting, or at least giving us more with the character that Naomi Watts plays (or, I should say, passively inhabits until she gets her quick pay day for filming) - and then in the last third becomes atrocious as far as doing what I'm sure they thought of as "homage" to the Shining when it comes off as being a shallow and insipid rip-off.
It's unimaginative in the ways that should matter for it to either be a legitimately good movie about a mother taking care of her invalid son (the opening shows her aggressive teenage stepson, going off to some special school after being expelled with his dad, and the two get into a car wreck that leaves the father dead and the kid in a lobotomized state), while also tending to a seemingly troubled boy who is practically deaf (this Jacob Tremblay, making sure like Jennifer Lawrence and Kristin Stewart before him among many others to get in that s***y horror movie in early in his career) and who runs away and he may be a ghost now, OR if it became a sleazy exploitation picture with hints/direct references to incest and gratuitous nudity and violence.
Instead this is kind of lazy, boring thriller where the main character has dream sequences that are meant to trick us to make us think something terrible or suspenseful is happening (she's washing her son and then tries to drown him, so early on in the movie, wow that's effed-oh wait nevermind). It does something I cannot abide or stand by when it comes to cliched screen writing which is not carrying the courage of its storytelling convictions: it should take its premise of a woman in a snow-bound Maine area and run with it in creative ways, not in fake-outs and dreams/nightmares that are meant to make us jump. And, as is the case with spineless horror thrillers from Hollywood (The Darkness was another one this year, but at least that had the slightest bit of something different with the conceit of its premise), it's PG-13. Soft, squishy, one F-word and 'partial' nudity with Naomi Watts (or, as Jerry Seinfeld might say, "Bad naked" in the scene we actually see her exposed in an act of escape from a bathroom).
This isn't the kind of movie that could have been saved necessarily by stronger performances - Watts is doing her best to keep above water, and Oliver Platt is there to, uh, deliver lots of clunky exposition about medical stuff and "there's no such thing as ghosts" - but I could have at least seen someone with stronger balls or crazier sensibilities. Here, Charlie Heaton is the son (or, sorry, 'step son', got to continue to say that, god forbid they went for the much more dangerous territory), and he comes off less like someone who could give this a pair of over-the-top magnificence (think 80's Nicolas Cage or early Crispin Glover for example), and is instead like a 2nd rate Dane Dehaan. By the time his 'secret' is revealed it's a) so preposterous that, as it turns out, was actually a *joke sub-plot* on Arrested Development, and b) if it's meant to be serious it doesn't hold up to a shred of scrutiny. Compared to this, this year's The Boy is Hitchcock's Psycho.
But at least The Boy tried to give it a good go with giving good actors some decent dialog, and once it finally went full-stupid it was so mind-blowing as to grab my attention by the throat (the ending, as uproariously silly as it was, at least tried something different). This does nothing different, aside urinate on The Shining and Stephen King in general, and if I wasn't being angry at other times I was nodding off almost about to sleep, which is very hard for me to do given the light and sound of a theater experience. It's not scary, not thrilling, not dramatic, not exciting, not enticing, not well acted (yeah, it's a career low for Watts), and it's not even much of anything. I'd expect it on a ten-pack DVD of bargain basement horror flicks you can get in Wal-Mart, not on over 1,000 screens.