A Hidden Life
It’s one of the year’s best and most distinctive movies, though sure to be divisive, even alienating for some viewers, in the manner of nearly…
On Thanksgiving Day, film critic Brent Northup at Helenair.com penned a review of "Shut In," giving it an F (our critic, Peter Sobczynski, didn't care for it much either). We have decided to post the complete review, in which Northup references several classic reviews written by my late husband, Roger Ebert. You can read each of them simply by clicking their titles below.—Chaz Ebert
Shut In review by Brent Northup
Roger Ebert, usually an optimistic critic who saw the good in nearly every movie, had his dark moments.
My favorite Ebert tirades?
“I hated this movie,” wrote Ebert after enduring ‘North.’ “Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it.”
“‘Mad Dog Time’ is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time.”
And finally, Roger wasn’t afraid to tell us what he thought - what he really, really thought - about “Spice World.”
“The Spice Girls are easier to tell apart than the Mutant Ninja Turtles, but that is small consolation: What can you say about five women whose principal distinguishing characteristic is that they have different names?”
I can’t top those bits of deathless prose, but I can say that “Shut In” is truly a turkey for Thanksgiving, likely on the bottom rung of 2016 movie fare.
I suspected the worst when I heard: “Drop the ax.” And when the final battle took place on a dock with the villain clutching a claw hammer and the heroine wielding an oar, the verdict was final.
Along the way, we met Mary, a psychologist whose husband was killed in a car accident which also paralyzed her stepson. She’s now a 24/7 caretaker for her 18-year-old immobile stepson, Stephen.
Stephen was a high maintenance boy before the accident: He was expelled from school and spewed dark venom around the home, forcing his parents to decide to send him to residential treatment. But on his way to the care facility with his dad, the accident changed family plans.
Another boy figures oddly in the story: a deeply troubled grade school patient of Mary.
So what we’ve got here is two boys, 18 and 9, and a grieving mother alone in a house which has disturbing noises at night. By the way, both boys have glaring down pat.
“But is it scary?” ask the horror fans.
“No, it is not,” replies the critic.
Most of the fright is generated with giant blasts of cacophonous noise from the soundtrack.
For the record, “Shut In” sports one of those ohmygosh M. Night Shyamalan surprise endings. Minus the ohmygosh. Minus the surprise.
Enough is enough.
Let’s close by hearing from a few other critics, who also regret giving away 90 minutes of their life -- time that they can never get back. On the day I wrote this, these reviews helped secure “Shut In” a perfect “zero” rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- not an easy feat.
“I've had bigger scares from my goldfish bowl,” wrote Rex Reed.
“It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, scads of clichés appeared on the horizon,” wrote Variety.
And let’s give the last line to Norman Wilner, of NOW Toronto. Norman channeled his inner Ebert to sum up “Shut In.”
“This is a terrible, terrible, terrible movie,” he wrote.
Bad movies sometimes beget good reading.
To view the original posting of Northup's review, click here.
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