Shut In is the first original film to come from right-wing news site The Daily Wire, as part of their promise to “make conservative movies to take on liberal Hollywood”. If you can put aside the history and beliefs of some of those involved in the production of Shut In (I was completely oblivious beforehand, so this wasn’t an issue for me), then you’ll likely find it to be a wonderfully tense and well-acted little thriller.
Rainey Qualley stars as Jessica, a single mom of two young kids, who is in the process of clearing out and preparing her Nana’s house for sale following her death. While clearing out the pantry, the door slides free of the brick that Jessica used to prop it open, slamming shut and trapping her inside. Unfortunately, the door cannot be opened from the inside and daughter Lainey isn’t strong enough to turn the handle from the outside either.
Luckily, Jessica doesn’t stay trapped for long before somebody shows up to set her free. Unfortunately for Jessica, that someone is Rob (Jake Horowitz), ex-boyfriend and father of their children, who is also a drug addict and generally not a very nice person. To make things worse, Rob has brought along his drug addict friend Sammy (Vincent Gallo), who also happens to be a child molester! We learn that Jessica was once an addict too, moving in the same circles as Rob and Sammy, but managed to get herself clean. An argument ensues, and an angry Rob shoves Jessica back inside the pantry, closing the door and hammering boards across it for good measure.
Rob and Sammy don’t stick around, but it now means that Jessica is well and truly shut in. There’s a gap at the base of the door, big enough for Jessica to pass Lainey some homemade apple butter from the pantry so that she doesn’t go hungry, but Rob was sure to take Jessica’s mobile phone with him, along with his toolbox. She has no way of calling for help and not much in the house that can help her escape.
From there, and for much of the remainder of the movie, we stay with Jessica in the pantry. We can hear Lainey and movement upstairs while Lainey tries to feed and care for the baby, but we have no idea what’s going on, just like Jessica, which really adds to the intensity. Amazingly, Jessica does manage to remain cool, calm and collected, making good use of jar lids to try and dig herself out while occasionally passing food and instructions to Lainey.
As if being stuck in a pantry, in a remote house, with your young children fending for themselves outside wasn’t enough, Shut In throws even more in Jessica’s direction. Child molester Sammy decides to return to the house without Rob and a heavy storm manages to throw out the power and inflict damage on the house. I knew that everything would be alright in the end but that didn’t stop me from being firmly on the edge of my seat, nerves in shreds, for much of the movie.
All of this tension wouldn’t be quite so believable and thrilling if it wasn’t for the cast. I hadn’t previously come across the singer and daughter of Andie MacDowell, Rainey Qualley, but I thought she was superb in this as the resourceful young mother who turned her life around. So too was young Luciana VanDette who plays daughter Lainey. While Shut In does manage to sneak in some conservative values, there’s nothing there that’s too in your face and I found this to be an unexpected little gem of a thriller.
Signature Entertainment presents Shut In on Digital Platforms on 30th May
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.