Monday, August 22, 2016

Shelley (2016) movie review

Shelley (2016)

IFC Center here in NYC does midnight showings every Friday and Saturday night, mostly popular cult movies and classics.  Sometimes they run a particular series like a block of Stephen King movies over several weeks, or the series they are running now, on aliens in movies.  They also sometimes show movies under their IFC midnights banner, which is usually very small independent horror movies being released by IFC Films.  Although I do try to catch these when they show, due to the fact that horror movies are only marginally scary at the theater, and almost never scary at home.  The problem is that I can almost always guarantee that these movies will not be good, with very few exceptions.

This, unfortunately, was not the exception.  The movie starts off well enough, a girl moves in with a couple that lives in the middle of nowhere, literally.  They have almost no contact with the real world, and get very few visitors.  They do not have electricity, so they only have one land line phone.  The girl has been hired to help around the house, as the woman in the couple is somewhat sickly.  She had tried to have kids but she kept miscarrying.  The young girl who moves in with them has a son of her own, but he is living with her mom for the time being, so she can make some money and buy them a nice apartment.

All seems to be going well, the girl adjusts pretty quick and really starts to like the couple, especially the wife.  While chatting one day the wife lets her know that she had some of her eggs frozen, and would love to have someone carry her child for her, as she can't anymore due to her health.  She asks the young girl if she will do it, and she says yes, hoping she can buy that apartment much sooner, after 9 months, rather than the few years she needs to save that kind of money.

Now, this is a horror movie, and at this point there is just a bit of low level dread floating around, nothing over the top, just a bit off.  Once she gets pregnant though, things start to get weird.  She starts having a very bad reaction to carrying this child, and things don't go as planned.

I'm not one for spoilers, but this movie falls under the category of the horrors of having children, amplified by the horror aspect.  We have seen this a million times before, and nothing very new is added to the mix here.  The only things that is slightly novel in this movie is the fact that after a while there is a very low volume noise running through the film, so low that you wonder if you are hearing it or if there is something wrong with the movie.  After a while, it gets a tiny bit louder, and a bit more as time goes on.  The low level noise increases with the low level dread that is pervasive in this film.

For me, this film just didn't go anywhere with its dread and noise.  I felt more or less the same way with The Witch, a movie I caught this past year.  As that movie progressed, nothing much happened until right near then end, and even then it wasn't scary, just creepy.  Eventually the movie wraps up in a very vague kinda way, and no real explanations are made.

The good parts of the film are that the cinematography is really nice, the actors do a good job, the story starts out ok, but unfortunately ended up nowhere.  The sound design is a bit tricky, since the effect they use to make sound of dread is annoying to me.  I am not sure others would hear it as much as I do, but who knows.

Overall this movie was a disappointment, and not one I would recommend.

6 out of 10 stars.

Location : IFC Center, theater 5, NYC
Date and time : Friday, July 29th, 2016 at midnight
Format : DCP
Audience : 8 people, way more than usually shows up for these movies


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