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The Shelter

Year: 2016
Production Co: Bruise Productions
Director: John Fallon
Producer: John Fallon
Writer: John Fallon
Cast: Michael Paré

80s stalwart Michael Pare plays Thomas, an embittered homeless alcoholic who roams bars and the streets having flashbacks of the beautiful family he lost years before.

After stumbling around the dark neighbourhood having hurt himself in a fight, hungry and still drunk, he comes across a lavishly appointed house where he tentatively lets himself in, calling for the owner but finding nobody.

When he realises he's alone Thomas gets a bit more daring, helping himself to booze, the fridge full of food and a hot bath. Despite several seemingly supernatural phenomena that already have him rattled, he settles down in front of the TV to fall asleep.

But as he starts what he thinks will be an uneventful night, things only get weirder. The phone rings, although nobody's there. He can hear someone upstairs in the bath he just left. The pages of an old, leather-bound book turn in an invisible breeze, an invisible pen writing Bible verse in it.

Most disturbing of all, though, is that the house is locked up so tight he can't even get out again. Along with the many Biblical motifs, the movie seems to be prompting you to wonder if Thomas has found heaven or locked himself in a hell of his own making?

During the last quarter his sense of self apparently enters a long flashback of him being back with his wife and teenage daughter at an idyllic lakeside cottage, but apparently having an affair with a neighbour even though he doesn't know her. It makes you (and probably Thomas himself) wonder if that's his real life and the homelessness and loss is only a nightmare, or the other way around.

The film moves slowly, taking a really long time to play out and not really answering many of the questions it raises, which is kind of disappointing. It looks good, writer/director John Fallon having an assured command over the look and mood. It seems obvious it's all a parable for religious ascension, faith and identity, but why and how isn't nearly as clear.

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