eOne's July 5, 2011 Releases
Essential Killing (July 4/11)
An astonishingly dull piece of work, Essential Killing follows Vincent Gallo's Mohammed as he's captured by American forces in Afghanistan - with the film subsequently (and primarily) detailing Mohammed's efforts at staying alive after he escapes during a prison transfer. There's little doubt that Essential Killing gets off to a fairly promising start, as filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski initially captures the viewer's interest by emphasizing Mohammed's less-than-kind treatment at the hands of his captors (ie it's eye-opening and inherently fascinating stuff). It's only as Mohammed bolts that the movie slowly-but-surely begins to morph into an increasingly tedious slog, with the complete and total absence of character development preventing the viewer from working up any sympathy for the protagonist's plight. (One is, in fact, more likely to root for Mohammed's capture, as the character kills and terrorizes a number of innocents during his escape.) The film's atmosphere of authenticity is, as a result, rendered moot, and it's ultimately impossible not to wonder just what Skolimowski originally set out to accomplish with this mess - as the movie, for the most part, plays like a second-rate art-house experiment that's gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Shelter (July 5/11)
Shelter follows forensic psychiatrist Cara Harding (Julianne Moore) as she begins treating a man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) suffering from multiple personality disorder, with the film subsequently detailing Cara's ongoing investigation into her patient's mysterious past. It's a conventional setup that's employed to disappointingly pervasive effect by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, as the filmmakers have infused Shelter with an almost astonishingly deliberate pace that immediately (and consistently) holds the viewer at arm's length. The hands off atmosphere is perpetuated by the familiarity of the storyline, with the emphasis on Cara's Ring-like fact-finding mission certainly playing an instrumental role in the movie's ultimate downfall (ie this sort of thing has been done countless times before, better and more efficiently). Moore's expectedly strong performance remains one of the few compelling elements within the proceedings, while Meyers' amusingly over-the-top turn as Cara's increasingly sinister patient injects the movie with sorely needed instance of vitality and life (eg the character's electrifying encounter with a woman from his past stands as an obvious highlight). The sluggish midsection eventually gives way to a interminable third act that's filled to the brim with wholeheartedly underwhelming twists and revelations, with scripter Michael Cooney's reluctance to answer several basic questions - eg why is the villain doing what he's doing? - cementing Shelter's place as a well-made yet entirely uninteresting horror effort.