Take Shelter, the independent film starring Michael Shannon and directed by Shotgun Stories director Jeff Nichols, was released on DVD and Blu-ray February 14th.
Amongst the romances of new home entertainment releases such as Lady and the Tramp and Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, an independent film written and directed by Shotgun Stories director Jeff Nichols stands out. Take Shelter intrigues its audience by tapping into society’s fear and anxiety over economic and climatic disasters through the depiction of Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon), a husband and father who begins to have nightmares of an apocalyptic storm and focuses on building a storm shelter in his backyard in fear of the impending doom, which begins to strain his relationships.
The film plays out in an M. Night Shyamalan fashion as a psychological thriller, but acts like a drama. Michael Shannon does an amazing job playing Curtis as a very real character. The audience follows right along with him through these terrible nightmares and the conscious aftermath as he questions his sanity while building this storm shelter for a storm that might only exist in his head. It’s this awareness toward the irrational behavior that makes this film work so well; audiences don’t know if they want Curtis to be right so that the main character isn’t crazy or wrong so that there isn’t really an apocalyptic storm coming.
The rest of the cast and crew also play strong parts in creating the perfect mood for this film. Jessica Chastain, who is currently up for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Help, plays wife Samantha LaForche. It is no question that she delivered an unwavering performance beside Shannon. Hydraulix Entertainment, known for working on effects for Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, Captain America: The First Avenger, and more, provided the visual effects and acted as a production company for the film. Director Jeff Nichols confirmed his skill once more, following the critical acclaim that his debut film Shotgun Stories generated.
By the credits, the questions asked throughout this film are answered and not both at the same time. Yes, this is one of those ‘leave it up to the audience to decide’ endings, which will definitely anger some viewers. However, this film really does a great job in forcing the audience to think about what really matters by the end – and that almost defines a person.
Take Shelter is a brilliant film that is a refreshing addition to the list of February releases with its plot that makes everyone think, and an ending that makes everyone think a little harder. Michael Shannon and director Jeff Nichols create an atmosphere that a lot of recent psychological thrillers don’t achieve.
Sony Pictures picked up this film to distribute, so it’s no surprise that the picture and sound quality on this transfer are top-notch. On Blu-ray, the 1080p creates a crisp image with strong and balanced colors throughout. There are a few small white bursts in certain scenes which keep this from being a perfect transfer, however, overall the visuals are stunning.
The sound quality is just as good. The Blu-ray features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack, which really brings out the sounds of the storm. Thunder sounds like its right outside, rain piddles across the soundstage. Not only that, but dialogue is even and never lost behind the surrounding noises. Sony Pictures really delivered a great transfer, especially Blu-ray, for this independent film.
There are a few extras included with this title, with none of them being Blu-ray exclusives. Here’s the complete list:
- Audio Commentary with director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon
- Behind the Scenes of Take Shelter
- Q&A with Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham
- Deleted Scenes
The header of the special features is the audio commentary with Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon. It is an enjoyable listen with the two men talking like real friends. It is fairly informative with some backstory filled in, behind the scenes stories, opinions of cast and crew members, and more. Some topics that viewers would want the two to discuss are sadly skipped (for example, the ending). There is no definitive answer given regarding the ending.
Behind the Scenes of Take Shelter is a short extra where director Jeff Nichols, actors Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, and others discuss the pre-production, themes of the film, casting, the crew members, and more. There is also a 20 minute Q&A feature included featuring actors Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham answering questions for a SAG Foundation session with moderator Jenelle Riley.
Lastly are the deleted scenes. There are only two included, which is a little disappointing after watching the commentary where the director discusses certain scenes that were removed. One scene that is included as a deleted scene that was discussed in the commentary is Second Counselor Session where Curtis goes to his counselor for a second time (there is only one seen in the feature film) and explains his reasoning for continuing to build the storm shelter even after being so aware of the possibility of his schizophrenia. This is one of those deleted scenes that is actually informative and could have been welcome within the film.
Overall, Take Shelter is a great independent film that has received a generous home entertainment release by Sony Pictures with top-notch picture and sound quality, and a couple informative extras.
Buy Take Shelter DVD
Buy Take Shelter Blu-ray
Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this column at the top of the page to keep up on all future news, reviews, interviews and giveaways.