Thomas Jacobs is a homeless, widower that spends most of his time trying to find solace at the bottom of a bottle.
One cold night he stumbles across a house with all its lights on & the door wide open. He ventures in & discovers the place empty, people live there but as of right now no-one is home. Thinking he has lucked out he decides to spend the night there but after getting spooked discovers all the doors & windows are now locked. He’s trapped inside & forced to relive the events that saw him end up on the streets.
It’s a movie that lives & dies on its lead’s performance as much of this film is focused on his reactions to the events unfolding in front of his eyes. Thankfully Michael Paré does an excellent job of portraying a man haunted by his own guilt, desperate to forget everything in the the nearest bottle of booze.
It’s a harrowing performance, one that could have easily become laughable during some of the dream sequences. These moments are exciting to watch though as you’re never really sure just what is happening. It’s never explicitly explained just what the house is & while that’s fine for the most part it would have been nice to have had a clearer idea of what had happened by the end.
Visually the movie looks lovely, the camera work picking its moments to show us Thomas’s deepest emotions & the darkness that lives behind his eyes. The house comes across warm & inviting at first but as the film goes on it begins to feel cold, barren & hostile. The change is done really well especially as it’s not instantly obvious to anyone including Thomas.
The Shelter just falls short of greatness by leaving too much for interpretation. At only 78 minutes a few extra minutes wouldn’t have hurt to help clear up a few of the questions that are left at the end. That being said it is a movie that has you thinking afterwards & that is never a bad thing.