It is difficult to imagine how the studio pitch for Shelter must have gone:
“We’ve got these two creepy Swedish directors who want to make a creepy movie about the fundamental tension between science and faith. It stars Julianne Moore, who plays a psychiatrist halfway between Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs and Dana Scully from the X-Files. Unfortunately she’s the rubbish Clarice Starling from the second, pitiful Hannibal Lecter movie. Not the good Jodie Foster one. But don’t worry she’s every inch the absurdly sceptical Dana Scully-type, who would definitely be looking the other way if a spaceship landed.
“Playing opposite her is Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the nice looking one from The Tudors and those Hugo Boss ads. He’ll have some kind of multiple personality disorder. Oh yeah, that’s the second thing: this film is definitely about the fundamental tension between science and faith, but it’s also got a theme about multiple personality disorder. Moore’s character doesn’t believe in split personalities, so that should set up a nice bit of dramatic tension.
“There’s also an imperilled little girl, so that’s all pretty standard horror film fare. But that’s it… Apart from the unexplored morality tale about stem cell research from the obligatory God fearing hick lady. And there is also this aside into witchcraft, and another little girl who is the eyes of this blind witch. But that’s it… Apart from the strangely coherent 100 year old man, who was a brilliant cameraman as a six year old Spanish boy in 1918. And while we’re at it we’ll also have a bit about Spanish flu. And this bit about stealing souls and hiding them in a ceramic jar.
“Meyers will actually be quite good for the first 25 minutes when he only has to play two personalities, instead of the 70 or so he is playing by the end. Julianne Moore, as usual, will also be good – until the last quarter when even she will be baffled by the unending plot twists. In fact, the last 20 minutes will be made up exclusively of plot twists so unrelated to the actual plot that they make the dancing bunny in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker seem plausible. There’s even this one twist where some guy will notice that a shadow in a home movie looks just like a sound wave and turn it into a speech file on his computer. It’s so stupid everyone in the cinema will laugh. Oh, and by the end, that bit about the fundamental tension between science and faith, don’t worry about it. It won’t matter.
“What do you think?”
“Okay, how about we just spend all the budget on the two-minute trailer and hope a few people are fooled?”