‘Take Shelter’ Review – A Storm is Coming
‘Take Shelter’ plays with the audience’s head, similar to classic ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes, and features terrific lead performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. ‘Take Shelter’ is the story of a man driven to seeming madness by the need to feel safe from an impending storm by securing his family and storm shelter anyway he can.
Curtis (Shannon) is your typical every day man. He has a beautiful family at home, a trusting partner at work, and a neighborhood that generally cares about its neighbors. While he does have his share of woes, including his daughter being deaf and a tight financial budget, things could be worse. However, everything starts getting bad for Curtis in the land of dreams.
Curtis begins having extremely vivid dreams, from being attacked by the ones he loves, to losing his daughter to a mob of strangers. It leaves him in a sickened state, often very pale and even urinating in his sleep; these dreams are completely horrifying him. They all have a common element in them though, a storm is coming and no one will be prepared for it; the rain comes down like hail and the color is bronze like motor oil. While the scenes of insanity normally give a signal that they are happening throughout the movie, the line between reality and insanity begins to blur as the story continues.
At home, Samantha (Chastain) is constantly working on communicating with her daughter. As a family, they attend classes in order to improve their sign language between them. After countless tries, Samantha has finally secured a surgery procedure for her daughter’s hearing so she might be able to hear again and the only way they can afford said transplant is because Curtis’s job provides excellent healthcare.
The madness starts interfering with Curtis’s daytime activities as well. Due to a family history of mental illness, Curtis tries everything in his power to stay with his family even if it means avoiding the help he needs. Casting aside his job, friendship, daughter’s medical treatment, and his marriage, Curtis decides his best chance for survival is his storm shelter in the backyard and it isn’t your typical shelter either. To feed this insecurity Curtis has taken out a loan against his mortgage and falls deeper into madness.
‘Take Shelter’ is the type of thriller that quietly sneaks up and then quickly amplifies the intensity. Michael Shannon seems to have an aura of madness circling around him even in his most grounded states. Jessica Chastain, on the other hand, plays the difficult role of a mother having to support her daughter and struggle with her husband’s illness.
‘Take Shelter’ is a thriller that director Jeff Nichols can be proud of. Offering up enough scares to keep the movie going, I never felt the 120-minute runtime. While I don’t think the film will ever get the type of praise other movies will get this time of year, ‘Take Shelter’ is well worth the effort.