Review by Cade
The Shelter follows a night in the life of Thomas Jacobs (Michael Paré), a homeless man who apparently “used to have it all.” Just what it is he “used to have” initially only becomes vaguely clear through sporadic flashbacks, which seem to be triggered by random events while he stumbles around an unnamed city. After he spends a notable portion of the film doing this, he finds an open door, inviting him inside and off of the streets. Not surprisingly, safe refuge for a homeless person in the form of an empty house with a stocked fridge and running water quickly becomes too good to be true.
Thankfully, Michael Paré’s performance wasn’t nearly as bland as some of the few other roles in this film, and he provides an adequate portrayal of a middle aged man whose troubled past finally catches up to him in the form of the divine. It wasn’t uninteresting watching his gradual descent into madness as he’s tortured by being forced to relive his actions, but I don’t feel like his character’s backstory was developed quickly enough. The majority of the plot seemed insignificant when compared to the climax, which can even be classified as mere ‘build-up.’
The existence of a higher power throughout the film is hinted at constantly, but Paré’s character fails to realize its presence until very late in the plot, which can be frustrating. The hints themselves are also at times overly conspicuous, and it requires little effort or engagement from an audience to figure out just what it is that Jacobs is being haunted by.
One more striking aspect of The Shelter was the subtle yet eerie filter in which we see Jacob’s world. It definitely adds a new layer to the atmosphere, but other than that it fails to be anything other than unrealistic. Not that The Shelter strives to be realistic, because between the Bible that writes itself and the words that appear as scratches in the bathroom mirror, it’s evident that the director (John Fallon) was worried more about unnerving Thomas Jacobs than he was his audience.
The Shelter was mildly disappointing and confusing. There were definitely some clever moments due to the ironic dialogue, which were entertaining. The motif of religion and faith is common, and Fallon’s take on the topic was intriguing. At the end of the day, however, I think there are more riveting horror films to be seen.
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