The Shelter Movie Review
Written by Steven Wood
Written and directed by John Fallon
2015, 76 minutes, Not Rated
Screened at FrightFest on August 28th, 2015
Michael Pare as Thomas
Gayle James as Maryam
Rachel G. Whittle as Annie
On a fate filled night, Thomas (Michael Pare, best known from Eddie and The Cruisers and The Philadelphia Experiment) is drawn towards a house that would prove shelter for the evening. Locked in the seemingly empty residence, he must face his inner demons before he can truly be set free. Thomas has been down on his luck and without a place to call his own for roughly five years. Dealing with the death of his wife an unborn child, he’s given up on any profession and even himself, to an extent.
When you’re homeless, and looking for a place to crash for the night; what’s better than a fully furnished house with no inhabitants? It is at this point of The Shelter where I have questions; and I will try to not spoil anything along the way.
The first 21 minutes is spent showing Thomas meander throughout his town, interacting with a few people along the way. This is all well and good, but when the runtime is only 72 minutes (not including credits), every second of screen time must move the story forward. Sure, we get some backstory on what prompted Thomas to give up on life, but not really enough; I would have liked to see more.
Just before Thomas enters the titular shelter, a certain “thing” happens that makes me wonder the validity of the remainder of the film. Ambiguity is good for some, myself included, but I can see how this could potentially throw some people off. Regardless of the events which take place inside the house, I did enjoy what was shown.
As for Thomas, he isn’t a good person. He’s cheated on and neglected his pregnant wife; how long has this been happening? We don’t know, but could assume quite some time since she was driven to suicide. Not to mention he has some pretty serious anger issues which is shown through an unprovoked encounter with he and a random person walking by. I have to hand it to Michael Pare regarding his acting; he makes you hate him yet feel sorry for him at the same time. For a good chunk of The Shelter there is no other cast besides Pare, so his acting chops really get a chance to shine through the otherwise dark landscape.
There is something to be said when it comes to the directing of John Fallon; since this is his first feature. The look of The Shelter is as stark as the tone, but that’s a good thing. Filling the screen with warm color tones and cheerful music would detract from the story. Not all is sad, though, as there are a few moments of retribution towards the end; but be prepared to bust out the tissues.
The Shelter falls into the category of “you might get it, you might not”, and I’m in the “I think I get it” boat; I have a feeling most of you will be in the same situation. The ending, or the last 15 minutes or so, sparked a conversation between my wife and myself, which was great since a lot of movies we watch don’t lead to a debate. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a story which could be dissected and interpreted in multiple ways.