The Shells Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Written and directed by Max Finneran
89 minutes, 2015, Not Rated
Britt Lower as Alex
Sara Chase as Lizzy
Erik Heger as Manny
Carolyn McCormick as Maryann Marzena
The Shells is a tepid take on the dreaming-is-reality adventure, full of actors you’ve seen in better movies and shows. The plot follows twenty-something Alex as she joins a film crew seeking the ghost of Maryann Marzena (Carolyn McCormick), a neuroscientist who believes dreams can be manifested in reality...mostly by kidnapping other people’s consciousnesses. Alex must battle her with her own dream demons to rescue her friends from Maryann’s grasp before they are trapped in a dream forever.
The Shells is the latest in a long line of movies that proclaim the “specialness” of their leading character without offering anything particularly special about them. It seems to be an ongoing trend now that seemingly unremarkable young men and women are required to hide a magic inside them – in Alex’s case, an ability to manifest her dreams in the waking world. Most likely inspired by the belief we are all just one reality show away from being tabloid royalty, movie writers can no longer create a scenario an ordinary person overcoming frightening odds. No one is allowed to be ordinary, even when they are painfully, boringly ordinary.
Britt Lower delivers a typical, uninspired portrayal of Alex. Isolated by her fears of the bogeyman chasing her, she is forced to return home to live in the shadow of her successful actress sister Lizzy (Sara Chase). Lower’s slow drawl, awkward shoulder slump, and slack jaw shock could be easily changed out with Kristen Stewart and no one would notice. It could be a fault in the directing, but it doesn’t feel like anyone working on The Shells tried to make Alex a real woman.
The supporting cast is able despite being formulaic. Erik Heger is entertaining as the eccentric director who goes to extreme lengths to inspire his artists; and Anna Andresen (as Anina the cinematographer) is the only one who is genuinely frightening when her conscious is stolen from her.
The Shells aches for a second and maybe third location, tighter directing, a few rewrites, and just one fresh concept. Unfortunately the drought of new ideas hits this movie hard. To end on an awful pun, The Shells is no dream come true.