out of Five
Running time: 112
Shelter starts well and has a creepy premise but it becomes increasingly tedious thanks to a ridiculous script and a woefully bad performance from Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
What's it all about?
Directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, Shelter stars Julianne Moore as Pittsburgh psychiatrist Caroline, who's challenged by her Larry David-alike, know-it-all psychiatrist father (Jeffrey DeMunn) to see if she can figure out Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), one of his multiple personality disorder patients. As Caroline investigates Adam, she makes the horrific discovery that all of his personalities are victims of brutal murders and she soon begins to suspect that something supernatural might be going on.
You'd think Julianne Moore would have learned her lesson about appearing in crappy supernatural thrillers after The Forgotten, but no, here she is again, being menaced by something creepy and generally out-acting the hell out of everyone around her (although, it should be noted that Moore's CV includes both Body of Evidence and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle). To be fair to Moore, she gives it her all, even if the script doesn't really do her any favours; there's also good support from Nate Corddry (as Caroline's brother) and Brooklynn Proulx (as Caroline's daughter, Sammy).
The film's biggest problem is Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who doesn't bother to make his many multiple personalities significantly different from each other, to the point where you can't tell who he's supposed to be at any given time and quickly stop caring as a result. He's also ludicrously over-the-top and not in a good way – indeed, it's almost as if his every scene serves only to undo the good work put in by Moore.
The initial premise is interesting and creepy, but the script plummets downhill as soon as Caroline meets a mysterious old woman (Frances Conroy) who tells her about “Satan-worshipping mountain witches." In addition, Marlind and Stein pile on every cheap make-you-jump trick in the book, from a sudden phone ringing to a screeching cat to powerful thunderclaps.
Despite Julianne Moore's commendably committed performance, Shelter is frequently boring, increasingly ridiculous supernatural thriller that's badly let down by a woeful turn from Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Not unwatchable but not particularly good either.