Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gimme More Take Shelter: Best Scary Movie of the Past 5 Years.

Movie Review: Take Shelter

Director: Jeff Nichols

Reviewed: 20 July 2012

jamesintexas rating--**** (highest possible rating)

Take Shelter is the most frightening movie of the year.  Here are movies that have seriously scared me.

The Silence of the Lambs: Serial killers, cannibals, guys with moving vans, night-vision goggles, and a sense of methodical purpose.

The Exorcist: Demonic possession, little kids spewing vomit and hatred, battle between good and evil.

Scream: Unkillable, unstoppable, undeniable Ghostface killer with his sharp knives, deadly garage doors, and cell phone torments.

Let The Right One In: A realistic, cold, and scary vampire movie set in Sweden.

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Cults, family conflict, your family is a cult, and dissolving reality.

Signs: A sonic nightmare of claws and alien clicks, a father furiously hammering wood over his home's windows, a family terrorized by an unknown force.

Pan's Labyrinth: The Pale Man is a singularly terrifying creature.

Halloween: A supernatural, spooky, silent killer in a William Shatner mask spray painted white.  Babysitting gone wrong.

The Ring: Little girl coming out of the television.  Rainy Seattle.  Grainy, eerie VHS tape.  Enough said.

The Shining: A movie that felt wrong when I watched it in high school, and I still think it would feel wrong now at 33; elevators of blood, twins, hotel rooms with unspeakable images.

Jaws: Undeniably effective and psychically scarring for me; there is no point in stepping into a lake, river, pond, or ocean where I don't think about its apex predator gone mad with human blood.

And now, Take Shelter.  I want to write as little as possible about this movie because I'm still wrestling with it in my mind, and I think that you should go into the film knowing very little.  I need to see the film again, but I think it has something profound to say about mental illness and families, as well as the fragility of a person who knows their own background and makeup.  The underrated and underappreciated Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a working-class guy in small town America (southern Ohio) who works on a construction crew, tries his best, saves his money, and then starts seeing visions.  Horrifying, visceral, realistic scenes best left undescribed.  Curtis lives with his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain, again brilliant) and their daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) who happens to be deaf.  They are a family struggling to pay bills, to cover health costs for a cochlear implant for their daughter, strains with both sets of their parents.  And then, there's Curtis's visions or revelations or hallucinations which threaten the very fabric of their family and relationships with each other.  Shannon and Chastain are both so good here as a couple under duress, and the sense of small town life seems spot-on.  I won't say more.

For me, cinematic fright takes many forms as you can see from my list above: serial killers, aliens, elevators of blood, creepy little long-haired girls, great white sharks, lethal vampires, the unkillable, etc...  Now, add losing one's mind, family, home, and existence to that list.  Take Shelter is a horror film for our times, a film that delves deep into a community, faith, and a family, and its answers are never simple.

A phenomenal achievement.  Please go see it!

No comments:

Post a Comment