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Jeff Nichols
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham
Writing Credits:
Jeff Nichols

Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

Box Office:
$5 million.
Opening Weekend
$52,041 on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 2/14/2012

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Nichols and Actor Michael Shannon
• Deleted Scenes
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Q&A with Actors Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham
• Trailer & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Take Shelter [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 21, 2021)

When the Oscar nominations for 2011’s movies got announced, one of the bigger surprises came from the absence of Michael Shannon’s name on the Best Actor list. Much praised for Take Shelter, he seemed like a lock for a nod.

Alas, that didn’t occur, so the versatile performer will have to wait until another year to potentially score Oscar gold. Given all the praise Shannon received, I was curious to give Shelter a look.

We focus on Curtis LaForche (Shannon), a middle-class family man who lives in rural Ohio with wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart). They lead a pretty content existence, though Hannah suffered an illness that left her severely hearing impaired.

Out of nowhere, Curtis starts to experience troubling dreams that show disturbing images such as natural disasters and animal attacks. As time passes, Curtis becomes more and more preoccupied with these visions and finds himself concerned that they portend an apocalyptic future – or his own descent into mental illness.

Without question, Shelter places itself on Shannon’s back, as it brings an intensely character-focused piece with little narrative to carry us. Instead, we’re asked to view the world through Curtis’ eyes, as virtually everything we observe comes colored by his potentially warped perspective.

When asked to lead the film, Shannon responds well. Is it a travesty that he didn’t earn the aforementioned Oscar attention?

Perhaps not, but at the very least, it’s a shame. He takes on a challenging role and handles it with aplomb.

This seems especially remarkable given how easy it would’ve been for Shannon to go big. Characters with apparent mental issues can be a license for over-acting, but Shannon resists those temptations.

He gets one – and only one – scene that permits him the chance to chew a little scenery, and even then, he holds back a bit. At no point does Shannon do anything that feels theatrical or untrue for his character.

Which is a bit of a miracle given the opportunities for hamminess. Essentially, one could view Shelter as a long take on Roy’s crack-up from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as both characters experience mysterious visions that create relationship stress and lead to erratic behavior.

The films treat the roles quite differently, of course. In CE3K, we know Roy’s right, whereas here, we’re never sure if Curtis is nuts or if he’s really able to foresee a coming disaster.

Whereas Roy’s apparent breakdown created only a small section of CE3K, Curtis’s issues become the focal point of Shelter. That might lead one to worry that the narrative will get stretched thin, but it doesn’t.

The story unravels in such a deliberate, gradual manner that it never feels forced or artificial. It also doesn’t seem slow, as we become naturally immersed in Curtis’s situation.

All of this leads to a dark, unsettling but consistently involving film. Shelter rarely spoonfeeds the viewer, but it also doesn’t go out of its way to be opaque or difficult to understand.

While it leaves itself open for interpretation, it remains concise and provocative. We find a high-quality character drama here.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Take Shelter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good presentation.

Sharpness looked solid. A few shots were slightly soft, but these were minor concerns. Overall, though, definition was quite good.

No jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as the movie stayed clean.

Shelter opted for a low-key palette, with an emphasis on amber/tan and light teal. Within their parameters, the colors appeared well-developed.

Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were solid; they showed positive clarity. In the end, the transfer proved to be very good.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Take Shelter, it was a good mix. Curtis’ visions became the most important elements, as those created dynamic sound elements.

With thunder, storms and tornadoes, the soundscape really came to life in a vivid manner when necessary. Quieter scenes provided good atmospheric material as well.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was crisp and distinctive, with no edginess or other concerns.

Music was full and rich, while effects came across as clear and accurate. The track boasted solid low-end when appropriate. All of this was good enough for a “B+”.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The BD’s lossless audio added some range and kick.

As for the visuals, the BD appeared better defined and smoother, with superior colors. The Blu-ray brought the expected step up in quality.

The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and these open with an audio commentary from writer/director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, music and effects, sets and locations, and a few other production areas.

While it occasionally drags a little, the commentary usually covers the movie well. Both Nichols and Shannon mix well, and they add low-key but likable humor along the way. They help make this a pretty informative and enjoyable chat.

Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 57 seconds. These include “Second Counselor Session” (4:21) and “Picnic Table” (1:36). The first shows what it describes, as it takes us to one of Curtis’ therapy periods, while “Table” gives us a chat between Curtis and Samantha that discusses a visit from Curtis’ brother. Both are pretty inconsequential, so neither adds anything that would’ve fleshed out the movie in a substantial manner.

Two featurettes follow. Behind the Scenes of Take Shelter goes for 10 minutes, 34 seconds and offers statements from Nichols, Shannon, set dresser Ben Haehn, production designer Chad Keith, and actors Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham.

“Scenes” looks at the film’s story and influences, cast and performances, set design and construction, visual effects, filming in Ohio and other production issues. “Scenes” is too short for much detail, but it’s fairly efficient and it gives us a decent examination of movie topics.

A Q&A with Actors Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham lasts 19 minutes, 50 seconds. Filmed for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, the performers discuss aspects of their characters and performances as well as a few other elements of the shoot.

Both seem engaging and informative through this piece, so we get some nice notes here. (Don’t watch it if you’ve not already seen the movie, though, as it includes potential spoilers.)

The disc opens with ads for The Skin I Live In, A Dangerous Method, Carnage, Retreat and In the Land of Blood and Honey. These also appear under Previews, and we get the film’s trailer as well.

Dark and foreboding, Take Shelter offers an intriguing take on a man’s apparent psychological disintegration. It creates a good character examination and keeps us with it from start to finish. The Blu-ray provides solid picture and audio along with a few useful supplements. Shelter offers an intriguing apocalyptic drama.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of TAKE SHELTER

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