Do you live with regrets? Sure, we all do right? But do those regrets haunt you every day? Maybe for some, but have those regrets been an event that has ultimately led to a life being taken? No, not for me and not for a lot. But that is what haunts Thomas (Michael Pare), a homeless man in THE SHELTER. At first glance, we can’t be sure what it is that haunts Thomas, why he is homeless, and what he is doing. But as the film progresses, we get a glimpse into his former life and what led him to this one night.
THE SHELTER takes place during one night, Thomas is just looking for some shelter and some food to get him by. He finds an open house, that has everything he needs. But all is not what it seems, and he can’t leave the house. Is it haunted? Or he is being haunted? What could lead a man to a life of hopelessness with nothing left? How is Thomas to overcome the past when he can’t move forward? Questions to ponder with this film, and so much more. THE SHELTER is not simply a straight forward film about a homeless man, it puts forth a lot of questions that its audience can’t help but think about.
My personal film taste is quite varied, David Lynch is my personal favourite film maker, and THE SHELTER certainly has shades of his style of storytelling, something I can easily appreciate it. I enjoy being able to dissect and examine a film, being left to fend for myself, and this film provides that in spades. Thomas isn’t a complicated character, his life to us is a puzzle that we need to uncover and put together. Why is this happening to him and what does it mean?
This feels like a romp into one man’s personal hell, the hell he has created for himself. His actions directly affected that of another, destroying both lives. Thomas may be alive, but he doesn’t want to be or feel he deserves an easy way out either. THE SHELTER is a psychological examination into one man’s personal hell, a hell that he created. His own selfishness led him down a very dark path, and the consequences are high. Is there a way back from all of this? Perhaps not for Thomas, but it leaves the audience with enough to think about their own actions and how they can have a huge affect.
I was very impressed by how well this film is handled by first time feature length director John Fallon, who also wrote the screenplay. Low budget? Who cares! Fallon used every cent he had to make this film look and feel like something special, never allowing budget constraints to show. He made his vision into a film, into something he can really be proud of. The biggest draw here is Michael Pare, it is his film. He is in just about every scene, and he conveys so much through his actions and his facial expressions. This is one of the finest performances I have seen him give, it is moving and it really hits hard.
THE SHELTER is one of those special indie films that comes along out of the blue and completely floors you. Since watching this film, I haven’t stopped thinking about it and its deeper meanings. You know you have seen something special when it leaves you shaking and wanting more. A fine film, that fit me like a glove.
Review written by Marcey Papandrea