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Shelter strikes me as another little-heard-of horror/thriller flick, and although it had the potential to be quite interesting, it sadly seemed to fall short in many aspects.
Shelter introduces us to Cara Harding (played by Julianne Moore), a forensic psychiatrist who seems to have a firmly held belief that multiple personality disorder doesn't exist per se. Her assumptions and values are put under strain when her assertions lead to 6+ killers being put on death row, and more recently then her husband dies. The world isn't looking too rosy but then her dad makes a suggestion for Cara to see a new patient, one he thinks will intrigue and challenge her.
Cara is introduced to Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a murderer who seems to have, or performs very well doing, multiple personalities. She's not too interested in this as a case, not believing in the notion of such a disorder in the first place, but her father is quite insistent. So, she goes along to see Adam, who's other personas include Adam and Wesley.
As she gets to know Adam more, she meets his other personalities and gets to know each a little better. At first she's resolute in her beliefs, but gradually his behaviours become more unnerving and Cara begins to question whether her previous assumptions were accurate. Perhaps Adam really does have this disorder, but more to the point, it seems like these other personas are voices of victims.
I won't go any further into the plot except to say that the film basically gives us a birds eye view of the psychiatrist-patient relationship, how it builds, how Cara learns more about this murderer and how bit by bit she becomes more afraid of the consequences of taking him on as a client. She needs to figure out if her previous beliefs about multiple personality disorder were truly well grounded, or if she could have made mistakes, if she could be responsible for sending mentally unstable people to their deaths instead of to get help. She also needs to figure out what's going on with Adam before it's too late.
This film had the potential of moulding a good premise from the inklings of psychiatry and multiple personality disorders, two things that could make for a dark and creepy thriller. Unfortunately, certain aspects just didn't quite make the cut. I found the plot at times to be a bit flimsy and could have been far more focused and dramatic with a bit of extra intelligence behind it. The same goes for the script, which could have been made stronger with more of an edge to really build up the sense of intelligent appeal and creepy atmosphere. At times it seemed to want to swing towards the clichéd side, which was disappointing as it could have forged itself something new and more original.
I found that as time went on, the tale got more convoluted and messy, it lost focus and 'oomph' meaning that the overall twists and climax were a bit of a let-down. The pace seemed to slow also, making many scenes seem drawn out and a little boring, in contrast to the fairly strong opening the film produced. Some parts also didn't quite seem to add up to me, making me think that some of it was a bit rushed.
Whilst Moore was good in her role as the psychiatrist, a widower who starts questioning some of her own fundamental beliefs, Meyers surprisingly wasn't as strong as I thought he could have been. This was also in tandem with the lack of quality with regards to some aspects of the film, for instance, when we're shown some CCTV footage that looks like it was quickly rustled up by anyone who was available at the time to do it so they could just shove it in to the film. These sorts of things gave the film, overall, a less high quality feel, one that was a tad rushed and lacked lustre by the end.
All in all this isn't one I'd really recommend; it has a few good things going for it, such as Moore's performance, but it was a let-down in too many ways for it to be an engrossing, thrilling late-night watch.
DVD released 2010, running time 108 minutes, rated Certificate 15
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