By: Addison Wylie
Shut In’s leading damsel Anna (played by Beth Riesgraf) and filmmaker Adam Schindler have something in common: both have the ability to surprise and disarm.
Schindler’s thriller begins as one of Toronto After Dark’s tamer offerings, and then socks us upside the head with brutal consequences and intense confrontations. Anna is reserved in mourning, and her agoraphobia keeps her hushed inside a rickety house. When she’s threatened by thieves interested in her stashed wealth, Anna reveals secrets about her house.
Hard-boiled, tough women are stealing the show at this year’s After Dark; Riesgraf’s performance undoubtably joins the club. Her transition from mousy to motivated is convincing and scary. We aren’t too sure whether to root for Anna or not – that’s a good thing. This uncertainty in T.J. Cimfel and David White’s screenplay is what keeps us guessing, and the aptitude Riesgraf demonstrates makes for a perfect match. Shut In is going to open a lot of doors for the actress and the screenwriters.
The troupe of backwoods crooks are all well cast, especially Martin Starr as the group’s most manic member. Normally known for being the odd ball in the room in ensemble comedies (Knocked Up, Adventureland), Shut In marks the first time a filmmaker has been able to flawlessly guide the funny man through relentlessly intense material. He begins with black comedy, gains our trust to laugh at what he says, and then shocks us with his violent behaviour.
The film sheds at a rapid pace, but also takes the time to let its scary atmosphere fill the negative space around its story. Toronto After Dark is using films like Panic Room and You’re Next to describe Schindler’s Shut In, but this powerful thriller is very much in a league of its own.
Shut In screens at Toronto After Dark on:
Sunday, October 18 at 4:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
For more information on the festival, visit the official TAD webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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