I’ve always marveled at the lengths some critics (and moviegoers in general) will go to in order to prove that they’ve ‘got’ something, so that they can lord it over the unwashed masses who are ‘too thick’ to work a film out.

Now I’ve never considered myself one of those types, which is why I’m happy to go on the record and say I’m still not sure I actually understood The Shelter.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it (I did) and I didn’t admire it as a piece of cinema (I did), but did I get my head around all of it? Nope.

Sure, I’ve got my theories, and the fact I’m still thinking about it days later is a major plus point – and I don’t really want to go into the ins and outs of my ideas for fearing of spoiling the film’s many surprises.

So here’s a brief synopsis – we get introduced to Thomas (a stunning Michael Pare), a down-on-his-luck homeless guy, still reeling from the loss of his wife.

Thomas wanders the streets, popping into a bar every now and again to drown his sorrows after picking up money (by fair means or foul – mostly foul).

Anyways, while wandering the streets Thomas comes across a welcoming home – welcoming in the fact that it appears well-lit and well decked-out, but nobody appears to be home, even though the door is open.

Grasping this unexpected advantage, he decides to have a poke around the house, coming across a room upstairs that is locked and marked ‘8’, along with photo frames that contain no photos.

But the fridge is stocked, and the water runs hot, so Thomas reckons a chicken dinner and a warm bath is on the cards.

All seems well, but when he tries to leave, the house doesn’t seem to want to let him go…..

The Shelter is filmed very episodically, with the action jumping from time period to time period constantly.

Director John Fallon keeps the audience on their toes, as well as off balance, with a series of scenes that practically force the viewer to pay attention.

From what appears a simple opening the film opens up into musings on life, love, loss, suffering and redemption.

There are a lot of religious references, as well as dreamy sequences bathed in light, where we are not quite sure whether to believe what we are seeing, or if it is merely a product of Thomas’ mind.

But Pare’s Thomas – a haunting, stripped down performance, keeps you intrigued, and the various clues Fallon drops along the way certainly work in ramping up the interest.

In many ways The Shelter reminds me of something like Jacob’s Ladder, another film that required work on the part of the audience – in a good way.

I’m giving Fallon’s film the thumbs-up, as the questions it posed certainly had me hooked – I’m just not sure I have the answers.

Frightfest London review: The Shelter
3.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.