Despite a strong effort from Naomi Watts, “Shut In” is more effective as a 90-minute commercial for the L.L. Bean aesthetic than as a pseudo-psychological thriller. The marled wool and fisherman sweaters the actress wears to keep out the Maine winter are far more interesting than the plot, which somehow manages to be at once ridiculous and dull.
Clinical psychologist Mary Portman (Watts) lives in a remote house alone with her stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who was injured in the car accident that killed his father. Mary views him as the physical shell of the troubled boy she knew, and she rarely leaves their home due to the care he requires.
Tom (Jacob Tremblay of “Room”), one of her young patients, appears at her home in the middle of the night, then promptly disappears into the snow. Mary searches for the boy in vain and worries while plagued by nightmares and isolation, compounded by a creaky house.
The cast — including Oliver Platt, who appears largely via Skype in a role as Mary’s therapist — tries hard to move past the tedious script from Christina Hodson and the leaden direction of Farren Blackburn but with little success. “Shut In” relies heavily on dream sequence fake-outs, jump scares and illogical choices by its characters in its attempt to create tension for the audience. It layers on the twists, but none is particularly surprising.
Rating: PG-13, for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: In general release