'Shut In' Capitalizes On Real Phobias

Those pumpkins you carved are now rotting and your Twitter friends are already planning group viewings of Elf. But November doesn't mean the start of the Love Actually season for everyone. You can protest the annual onslaught of feel-good holiday movies by leaning towards something darker, like Nov. 11's Shut In. The thriller stares Naomi Watts as Mary Portmann, a single mother raising her paralyzed and brain damaged teenage son (Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things). Through her work as a therapist, Mary meets Tom Patterson (Room's Jacob Tremblay) and treats the child for the psychological effects of a recent trauma. Tom disappears in a blizzard and is presumed dead. Mary isn't convinced of that, since she sees evidence of him in her home and on her son's body. The movie is classified as a thriller and is rated R, but just how scary is Shut In ?

Well, the trailer for the movie begins by highlighting Mary's relatively solitary existence, which is spooky on its own. "It's not my son, it's just a body that I bathe and wash and clothe," she says to someone. The best thrillers are the ones that tap into real, immediate fears. You can imagine how a mother would feel if her child was unable to communicate, move, or have any kind of productive future. Going further, you can probably also imagine how being the primary caregiver to such a person would put incredible strain on Watts' character. She even has a nightmare about drowning him in the bathtub. Even before the bizarre events begin, Shut In is sketching a world of pain, grief, and exhaustion.

Then, the trailer moves into more familiar jump-scare territory. Doors close of their own accord. The ghostly laughter of children rings through the house. A hand closes over Mary's mouth as she lays in bed. And all this is occuring while a storm rages outside.

The setting seems to be key in this movie. Mary is sectioned off from the rest of the world by the weather. Presumably, help is farther away with every new foot of snow on the ground. It adds to the claustraphobia of the premise. If you're someone who fears being alone or having your mobility limited it, Shut In will probably hit you hard.

Then there's the appearance of a scary movie element as reliable as a lone, swinging light bulb: the creepy kid. Jacob Tremblay is a certified cutie in Room and in real life. In this movie, those puppy dog eyes are cold and foreboding, and he's definitely not your average elementary schooler. The young actor recently told Popsugar — in an adorably spoiler-phobic manner — what terrifying moments to look out for in Shut In . "And then, scary stuff happens," Tremblay said. "And then they got isolated in their house. And then, pretty scary stuff happens. And something happens to me."

There you have it. Straight from the mouth of Tremblay: Shut In is rated PS for "pretty scary."

Image: EuropaCorp