Some films are so crazy, so bonkers, so out there, that you have no option but to sit back and enjoy the fun. To be fair, not only is Shelter the maddest film youll see this year, its also made with great skill, visual flair, pace and style, and even if it does occasionally tip over into silliness it will keep you hooked, gripped and not a little scared.
Julianne Moore is psychiatrist Cara Jessup, who helps the police determine whether people claiming they have multiple personalities are real or faking it. She is hard to convince the film opens in David Lynch-style with her sending a man to the chair, dismissing his claim that his alter ego was the real murderer. Her dad is in the same field, and introduces her to his latest obsession, Adam (Meyers). Adam appears to have someone called David living inside him, and actually goes through physical changes when he becomes this other person he becomes colour-blind, he is confined to a wheelchair, his accent and vocabulary changes.
Cara finds out the real David was a murder victim, and when she introduces the victims mother to Adam she is freaked out he seems to know everything about her. Frances Conroy is on typically American-gothic form here as the baffled and grief-stricken mother. Cara is baffled, then concerned when the people Adam/David comes into contact with start coughing and develop a nasty skin rash. When Adam/David becomes Adam/David/Wes, she discovers all of the alter egos are murder victims but what do they have in common? And which one is the real person?
Confused yet? You will be, but the complex themes of faith, murder and belief are deftly handled, and Julianne Moore is on screen right through the film to explain it all. When Adam/David/Wes/whoever sets his evil sights on her daughter, it turns into a straightforward chase movie, but its still scary and well done, and the supporting cast are up to the job.
The ending, too, has a twist that comes as a big surprise, especially for Hollywood, and leaves quite an impression not quite Blair Witch Project, but not bad. Shelter is one of those films you have to go with it would be easy to pick it apart if you want to but its an efficiently nasty and troubling tale. Meyers transformations involving not much more than cricking his neck are well staged, and Moore does appear in genuine danger at times. She takes proceedings completely seriously throughout, and does the script justice. It even gets away with the classic line: mummy, hes coming up the stairs.
Overall Verdict: Efficient psychological horror-chiller with a ghoulish visual style and committed performances. Over the top maybe, but fun certainly.
Reviewer: Mike Martin