SHELTER (15, 112 mins) 5/10
SHELTER Horror. Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Brooklynn Proulx, Nathan Corddry. Directors: Mans Marlind, Bjorn Stein.
Released: April 9 (UK & Ireland)
Simply as surely as the sun will rise in the east, Oscar-nominated actress Julianne Moore will continue to offset her brilliant work in independent films with thankless roles in mainstream Hollywood fare.
For every Short Cuts, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Far From Heaven or A Single Man, there is a romantic comedy like Nine Months with Hugh Grant, the abortive Silence Of The Lambs sequel Hannibal or sci-fi comedy Evolution with David Duchovny.
Perhaps her rent is extortionate and there’s no other way for Moore to pay the bills than to sign her name to substandard projects.
The curse strikes again with Shelter, a ho-hum psychological thriller from London-born screenwriter Michael Cooney (Identity) that is just as loopy as some of the thinly sketched characters.
Directed by the Swedish double-act of Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, this hoary genre piece has nothing but cliches up its sleeve.
The soundtrack begins with rumbling, discordant strings to signal impending doom as the film’s sceptical heroine unravels the kind of supernatural hocus pocus which kept Mulder and Scully at loggerheads for nine series of The X Files.
Dr Cara Jessup (Moore) is an expert in the field of multiple personality disorders and has been called as a witness at the trials of murderers and psychopaths who tried to mimic the symptoms to avoid a death sentence.
Her psychiatrist father (Jeffrey DeMunn) asks her to examine a new patient, Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who seems to have the disorder.
At first, Cara sees nothing remarkable in Adam’s charts and testimony, then her father teases out a second personality, and a third, including Cara’s beloved husband, who died during a mugging.
Struggling to come to terms with what she sees and hears, Cara questions her faith in God as she continues to protect her daughter Samantha (Brooklynn Proulx) from the harsh reality.
Cara’s father begs her to reconsider her views on multiple personality disorder.
"Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re right. It could mean you’ve just been wrong for longer," she retorts.
As the mystery deepens, drawing in Cara’s nephew Stephen (Nathan Corddry), the psychiatrist edges towards the shocking truth and realises that Adam is much more dangerous than he appears.
Shelter foregoes obvious shocks and surprises in favour of a sustained mood of disquiet.
Consequently there is nothing in Marlind and Stein’s film that will have audiences jumping out of their seats.
More likely, audiences will slide back in their seats and fall asleep.
Moore is far better than the picture deserves, conveying the contained grief of her widow.
However, Rhys Meyers once again proves he has no capacity for emotion in his performance, chewing scenery as each personality bubbles to the surface.
By the time he is whimpering like a child, we have to stifle the snorts of derision.