Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Wingham
Directed by: Jeff Nichols (“Shotgun Stories”)
Written by: Jeff Nichols (“Shotgun Stories”)

The storm clouds are spinning out of control in both the sky and trouble mind of Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon in the psychological drama “Take Shelter.” It’s a story filled with emotionally terrifying moments that bend between dreams and reality. As the storm rolls in, the sense of dread director/writer Jeff Nichols (“Shotgun Stories”) delivers in only the second feature film of his career is suffocating.

Shannon plays Curtis LaForche, a Midwestern sand miner who decides to build a storm shelter in his backyard much to the chagrin of his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) who worries how they’re going to pay for something they don’t even need.

But Curtis thinks it’s extremely necessary since visions of a terrible storm brew each day in his head. Not only are storm clouds forming, Curtis watches a flock of birds fly in eerie patterns and witnesses as oil drizzles upon him. With a schizophrenic mother, Curtis wonders if he, too, is crazy or if his mind is only playing tricks. Or maybe he really does have the power to foresee apocalyptic events that are coming near.

Was is so interesting about Curtis as a character is that he is incredibly conscious of his mental instability, but also vulnerable to the forces he can’t control. Whether they’re dreams or hallucinations, it’s all very ominous as he stabs the earth with a shovel and spirals into a deep, dark place that he can’t escape.

Metaphorical, poignant and heavy on biblical references, “Take Shelter” will speak to the same audience who found “Martha Marcy May Marlene” both disturbing and intriguing. As the possible storm torments Curtis, so does Nichols with his pitch-black tone and unnerving take on a reality that may or may not exist.

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