Masterful thriller: Shannon shows gifts in 'Take Shelter'
Here is a frightening thriller based not on special effects gimmicks but on a dread that seems quietly spreading in the land: that the good days are ending, and climate changes or other sinister forces will sweep away our safety. It takes place in a quiet Ohio countryside with big skies and flat horizons, and involves a happy family whose life seems contented.
It is the gift of the actor Michael Shannon, however, that while appearing to be a stable husband and father with a good job in construction, he can also evoke by his eyes and manner a deep unease. Curtis LaForche has what he needs to be happy. He fears he will lose it. His dreams begin to be visited by unusually vivid nightmares: The family dog attacks him, for example, or storms destroy his home.
To the puzzlement of his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), and their hearing-impaired daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), he builds a pen in the backyard for the dog, which had been living peacefully indoors. The storm dreams are not so easily managed. Ominous black clouds gather, their heavy raindrops brown and oily, and so subtle is the direction of Jeff Nichols that some of this poisoned rain seems to be real, not imaginary. They live on the outskirts of town, in an area that is swept from time to time with tornados. Full review.