There's a storm comin'!
You need to watch the most electrifying sci-fi thriller on Amazon Prime ASAP
The very title of this movie heeds a warning that feels all too real.
The apocalypse is no small thing. The end of the world – and our existence – is a massive and weighty topic that often yields movies of a similar scale. Let’s think of 2012, San Andreas or other major Hollywood blockbusters that show the earth cracking open, oceans submerging cities, or icy temperatures freezing life.
So while the end of the world can clearly be fodder for epic movies, what happens when we explore apocalyptic stories at a micro level? This 2011 film does just that. It centers its story on one Ohio man who starts to get disturbing visions of a terrible storm that’s coming. Is it all in his head? Or are his visions prophetic? Because the movie toes the line between these questions, the realistic setting and intimate filmmaking style test the audience’s nerves while acknowledging our anxieties over our changing world.
Although the film is now a decade old, Take Shelter still feels as immediate and urgent as ever before. Thankfully for us, this haunting sci-fi thriller is now streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu.
For starting as a quiet, intimate thriller, Take Shelter doesn’t take its time showing its audience that there is something wrong. The first scene sees Curtis, played by Michael Shannon, outside in the rain, but it is a yellow oily substance that rains from the sky upon a closer look.
This is the first of many visions — or hallucinations — Curtis experiences, many of which occur in his dreams. The movie then follows the LaForche family as Curtis’ visions increasingly disrupt their lives. After a terrifying dream where he sees a storm in the distance, and his dog attacks him, he runs out to buy a doghouse and fence to keep his family pet at a distance.
He wakes up sweating and feverish after dreams of crashing his car during a storm, his daughter getting kidnapped, and his living room furniture floating in the air as a menacing figure stands outside his home. The dreams appear in the film like any other scene, making us too believe they’re real until it cuts jarringly to Curtis waking up.
As the dreams continuously amplify in intensity, blurring the lines between what’s real and what isn’t, it begins to take a toll not only on Curtis but his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), and their deaf daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart).
His obsession with his visions and what’s to come causes him to take out loans and risk his job to build a storm shelter. Samantha is confused by her husband’s strange behavior and newfound doomsday hobbies. Still, she ultimately stands by his side as their friends and community show concern and doubts over Curtis’ apocalyptic warnings.
Underscored by the rising climate crisis, Take Shelter stirs the fears we may feel over our future on Earth and forces us to confront them. The themes of nature and anxiety and how they intersect are at the crux of this very human story. Writer-director Jeff Nichols talked about how these themes make Take Shelter feel so unnervingly relatable.
“Nature is the best kind of villain since it has no malice, it simply is,” Nichols told Cinema Scope. “That to me is far more terrifying, and ties in to that free-floating anxiety of things you have no control over. Storms seemed to me like a perfect way of visually expressing fears.”
Nothing feels more disturbing than seeing nature act out of turn, and Take Shelter is full of these moments. It uses these metaphors in a way that says something bigger about who we are and our relationship with nature. Typically, these higher concepts can feel intangible. Yet, by centering it on one man and his family, Nichols offers a relatable but compelling story that resonates beyond its shocking final moments.