Matt Adcock’s film review: Take Shelter

How much do you care about your family?

What if you were wracked with apocalyptic nightmares that threatened their safety and might just herald the end of the world?

Welcome to Take Shelter, a freaky drama from writer-director Jeff Nichols that blends a descent into madness with the everyday struggles of Curtis (Michael ‘soon to be fighting Superman as General Zod’ Shannon).

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Shannon, pictured right, is married to the lovely Samantha (Jessica ‘Tree of Life’ Chastain), they have a deaf six-year-old daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) and live seems very normal.

In a topical plot line, the family are having a hard time making ends meet and Curtis feels burdened in his dead end Ohio building job.

Things get worse when Curtis starts having vivid nightmares in which he’s in danger – always heralded by an unnatural storm and backed up with some cool special effects. What’s a man to do?

Well, our hero takes to constructing a tornado shelter in his back yard, much to the consternation of his wife and the bemusements of his work colleagues.

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The film builds up a creeping sense of dread and disorientation, summoning up strong echoes of like Donnie Darko in that it’s a strong psychological thriller where the threat is always ambiguou.

Is he going nuts, or is he actually picking up supernatural warning signals?

Take Shelter plays with your emotions and will keep you guessing right up to the unsettling ending.

It all looks amazing, too – stunning shots of the American flatlands mix with the weird and disturbing nightmares to form a unique fusion of fantasy and reality. There are some shots in this movie that will could burn themselves into your subconscious and leave you mulling the meaning over for some time to come.

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Shannon is great in the difficult lead role and he is ably backed up by the excellent performance of Chastain who is fast becoming the ‘go to girl’ for playing hot young mothers.

Young Stewart is also good in her supporting role and together they form one of the most convincing on screen families for some time.

Director Nicholls tackles a fascinating ‘what if?’ subject matter and gives you a vital viewing experience that is likely to demand repeat watching to fathom the complexities of the plot. Mental breakdowns have never been so interestingly depicted.

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