Take Shelter (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 1, 2012 by  

A unique story with a twist ending, writer/director Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” is a film that will surprise you but also captivate you with the wonderful performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Grove Hill Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Take Shelter

DURATION: 121 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (For Some Language)

RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2012

Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols

Produced by Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin

Co-Producer: Robert Ruggeri, Adam Wilkins

Executive Producer: Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Richard Rothfeld, Colin Strause, Greg Strause

Original Music by David Wingo

Cinematography by Adam Stone

Edited by Parke Gregg

Casting by Lillian Pyles

Production Design by Chad Keith

Art Direction by Jennifer Klide

Set Decoration by Adam Willis

Costume Design by Karen Melecki


Michael Shannon as Curtis

Jessica Chastain as Samantha

Tova Stewart as Hannah

Shea Whigham as Dewart

Katy Mixon as Nat

Natasha Randall as Cammie

Ron Kennard as Russell

Scott Knisley as Lewis

Robert Longstreet as Jim

Following his acclaimed debut, Shotgun Stories, writer/director Jeff Nichols reteams with actor Michael Shannon to create a haunting tale that will creep under your skin and expose your darkest fears. Curtis LaForche lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Hannah, a six-year-old deaf girl. When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a storm shelter in his backyard. His seemingly inexplicable behavior concerns and confounds those closest to him, but the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within his community can’t compare with Curtis’s privately held fear of what his dreams may truly signify. Take Shelter features fully realized characters crumbling under the weight of real-life problems. Using tone and atmosphere to chilling effect, Nichols crafts a powerful psychological thriller that is a disturbing tale for our times.

When a family begins to have nightmares that begin to change his life and affect his family and job, many wonder if he is going crazy.

Receiving rave reviews from critics nationwide is the 2011 film “Take Shelter” written and directed by Jeff Nichols (“Shotgun Stories”).  The film stars Michael Shannon (“Vanilla Sky”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Bad Boys II”) and Jessica Chastain (“The Help”, “The Tree of Life”).

“Take Shelter” screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and won the 50th Critics’ Week Grand Prix and won various film awards internationally.

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“Take Shelter” revolves around the LaForche family which consists of Curtis (played by Curtis LaForche), his wife Samantha (played by Jessica Chastain) and their deaf daughter Hannah (played by Tova Stewart).  The LaForche family is your average normal family living in a small town in Ohio.

But when Curtis begins to have nightmares of his dog attacking him, getting into a car accident with his daughter and other darker nightmares which he is not sure why they are happening.  It has gotten to the point where it has left him rattled and has started to affect his family and his work.

Curtis wonders if he may be developing symptoms of schizophrenia like his mother but because the LaForche family doesn’t have much money and if they do, they are saving it for their daughter’s surgery in order for her to hear.

But because his nightmares are starting to affect his life and he starts to feel that the dreams are a pre-cursor to a terrible storm coming, he takes out a huge loan from the bank without telling his wife and immediately begins construction for a storm shelter using his company’s equipment.

As the nightmares continue to get worse, many start to wonder if Curtis is sick.  His wife wonders why is he behaving so strangely.

Is Curtis sick?  Or is there more to his apocalyptic visions?


“Take Shelter” is presented in 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.  First, I just want to add that  if anyone wants to experience the best picture and audio quality for “Take Shelter”, you will definitely want to watch this movie on Blu-ray!

With that being said, “Take Shelter” looks very good on DVD.  There are a lot of scenes that are shot outdoors, scenes with blue skies are vibrant. While I was watching this film on DVD, I kept telling myself of how beautiful those scenes would look in HD!  I didn’t notice any problems with the overall picture quality, the film looks very good on DVD.

As for audio, the soundtrack features certain dream sequences that utilize the surround channels.  From Curtis’ dog attacking him, getting into an accident, hearing the sounds of the crackling storm to the reality sequences such as ambiance during one crowd scene during a fight.  Overall, dialogue is clear, action sequences sound good on DVD.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Take Shelter” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary with Jeff Nichols & Michael Shannon – Featuring in-depth commentary by director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon.
  • Behind the Scenes of Take Shelter – (10:35) Writer and director Jeff Nichols talks about how he came up with “Take Shelter”, the actors talk about their character and the film.
  • Q&A with Michael Shannon & Shea Whigham – (19:51) Featuring a Q&A session with actors Michael Shannon and Shea Wigham discussing how the film came about and their characters.
  • Deleted Scenes – (6:00) Featuring two deleted scenes: Second Counselor Session and Picnic Table
  • Theatrical Trailer  – (2:12) The original theatrical trailer for “Take Shelter”.

A unique story with a twist ending, writer/director Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” is a film that will surprise you but also captivate you with the wonderful performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain!

I have to admit that when I first watched the trailer for “Take Shelter”, the first thing that came into my mind was the Russell Crowe 2001 film, “A Beautiful Mind”.

Is this another film about schizophrenia?  But there is no denying that when this film started to win one award after another, perhaps there was more to this film than what we are given in the trailer.  And there is also no denying that the director of 2007 “Shotgun Stories”, Jeff Nichols is a person that has creative ideas and suffice to say, his name is being mentioned quite often.  The same can also be said for the film’s talents, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.  And so far, Chastain has literally made me a fan with her performances on “The Tree of Life”, “The Help” and her bit part in the “Texas Killing Fields”.

But it’s Nichols story that starts to unnerve viewers. Here is a normal family that will probably be destroyed by the actions of the protagonist Curtis.  He’s a hardworking family man, but when he starts having these dark nightmares of being attacked and getting in accidents with his daughter and needless to say, he starts to act on them.  You know that things are not going to look good for Curtis.

And as for the apocalyptic dream of a major storm coming his way, its the big part of the storyline as Curtis dedicates his life into building this storm shelter.    He wants to protect his family and be prepared, but of course, with his mother being mentally ill, many wonder if Curtis is also ill.

But it’s the way that “Take Shelter” ends that makes this film so satisfying and unforgettable.

As for the DVD release, you do get a pretty in-depth audio commentary by Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon and also a few features such as deleted scenes, a featurette featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the writer/director and cast members plus a Q&A between Michael Shannon & Shea Whigham.

Overall, “Take Shelter” is an impressive film from Jeff Nichols and I would not be surprised if we start to see and hear more from this talented writer and filmmaker.  Unfortunately, the film was snubbed for any Academy Award nominations considering the number of awards it had won internationally, but still, “Take Shelter” is a fantastic film with a engrossing story with powerful performances.

“Take Shelter” is recommended!

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