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Take Shelter (2011)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 151
Fresh: 139 | Rotten: 12

Michael Shannon gives a powerhouse performance and the purposefully subtle filmmaking creates a perfect blend of drama, terror, and dread.


Average Rating: 8.6/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 3

Michael Shannon gives a powerhouse performance and the purposefully subtle filmmaking creates a perfect blend of drama, terror, and dread.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 23,035

My Rating

Movie Info

Curtis LaForche lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Money is tight, and navigating Hannah's healthcare and special needs education is a constant struggle. Despite that, Curtis and Samantha are very much in love and their family is a happy one. Then Curtis begins having terrifying dreams about an encroaching, apocalyptic storm. He chooses to keep the disturbance to himself, channeling his anxiety into the obsessive building of a storm

Feb 14, 2012


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Latest News on Take Shelter

August 13, 2013:
Kirsten Dunst Has a Midnight Special
Dunst joins the cast of Jeff Nichols' upcoming drama, bolstering a cast that already included...
May 9, 2013:
Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon Reunite for Untitled Sci-Fi Project
The "Take Shelter" duo is getting back together on the Warner Bros. lot.


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All Critics (152) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (139) | Rotten (12) | DVD (7)

In my estimate, this unique and frequently arresting film suffers from the monotony of the lead players' affect, and from the film's urge to have its gloomy cake and eat it.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A hallucinatory thriller anchored by a deeply resonant sense of unease.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Variety | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When future film historians look back at the cultural fallout from America's financial collapse, 'Take Shelter' will be a key text. That is, if the storm doesn't sweep us all away.

November 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shannon wonderfully modulates Nichols' portrait of a man whose mind and life seem to unravel before our eyes.

October 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a strong, unsettling sense of disease that runs through Take Shelter, the best drama of the year so far.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comment (1)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In an era of empty entertainments, "Take Shelter" is built to last.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tight editing and pace make for a careful and thoughtful film that is a very strong piece of cinema.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Director Nichols walks a tightrope between giving us a dark, Gothic tale of misunderstood prophecy and a sobering lesson on the state of mental health care in rural America.

December 29, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

While Take Shelter isn't by any means perfect - writer/director Jeff Nichols could use a refresher course on editing - it's a powerful film, displaying a devolvement into insanity that ultimately proves to be quite visionary.

October 22, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

I could watch Michael Shannon stare at a wall for 90 minutes and still be captivated.

October 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Gordon and the Whale
Gordon and the Whale

Take Shelter writer-director Jeff Nichols takes great care in detailing Curtis's journey and surrounding him with concerned loved ones.

April 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

The riveting performances turn what on paper is a fairly simple climax into quite the emotional wallop.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source:

Quietly spellbinding until the film's astonishing final 20 minutes which make it one of the year's best.

January 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

The role of Curtis in this film is a perfect fit for Shannon's intense and slightly unhinged screen persona.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Ebert Presents At The Movies

As a director, Nichols creates such an intense aura of dread and impending apocalypse during the visions that when Curtis simply describes one that is not shown in the film, we shudder at the mental image it paints.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

eksetazei to thema toy me to sebasmo, thn aisiodoksia, alla kai thn apeiria toy dhmioyrgika kai koinwnika anerxomenoy, oi rizes toy sth bathia Amerikh de toy epitrepoyne kan mia "atheh" proseggish

December 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

A film that's easier to admire (at least in part) than actually like, but it's also a difficult film to ignore.

December 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The dread in this slow simmer of a film comes not from a clearly definable sense of danger, but more from a sense of simply not knowing.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Fresno Bee
Fresno Bee

A richly drawn, and at times disturbing, portrait of one man's descent into madness.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune | Comments (3)

Michael Shannon is at his best as a man plagued by apocalyptic dreams that start to bleed into his everyday life. It's one of the best independent American films of the last decade, playing on current concerns about the future of the planet.

December 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Screenwize

There's something about Michael Shannon's looming height and malleable features that makes him a natural fit for playing tortured souls.

November 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Nichols has nothing positive to say, and spends more than two hours saying it. It's a superficial movie pretending to be deep.

November 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK] | Comments (19)
Daily Mail [UK]

Parlays contemporary fears into the kind of relatable apocalyptic drama that relies less on big special effects and more on the ambiguous mental state of its protagonist.

November 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

An intriguing, painful film about the angst that's currently in the air, about misreading the runes, about embarking on actions that might make us laughing stocks, about taking wagers with and against history.

November 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Audience Reviews for Take Shelter

From Start to finish this movie sucked. Its a wonder it didn't ruin Michael Shannon carrer. 2 hours long are you kidding me, was this someone's tax write off. If you give thiss anything above 2 stars please I say please dont ask me to go to the movie with you. 1/2 star 11-09-13
November 15, 2013
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

A man with a family history of mental illness believes that his family is endangered by natural disasters.
Michael Shannon, the man who made Bug even more amazing than it already was and who rocked the insane sorority girl's email, delivers an astounding performance in this film. What is so great about him is his restraint, while underneath one can see a seething pit of emotional energy. His work in the film solidifies him as one of the best new actors. Jessica Chastain is also good.
The film as a whole snuck up on me. I thought it was moving slowly and predictably until the last act. Shannon's work was compelling, but the plot didn't find its legs until the end, but once it did, the scenes were compelling, and I found that I had grown to care about these characters.
Overall, this is an astounding thriller, and Shannon is a fantastic actor.
May 5, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

In Take Shelter, writer/director Jeff Nichols explores not only our own concepts of reality vis a vis the film itself, but delves into how others perceive and deal with the possibility that something just isn't right.

What we are given is Curtis, an honest man living in a small town in Ohio who is struggling with the added financial burden of special needs classes for his deaf daughter. Nichols hits all the right touches of a bonded family, with wife Samantha supplementing the family income by sewing and embroidering while caring for their daughter. Yet slowly a darkness descends on their lives as Curtis, in a wonderfully measured performance by Michael Shannon, begins to have visions of apocalyptic proportions. The central question is whether these visions and nightmares are prophetic or a sign of mental illness. Nichols walks a fine line in leaving that determination to the viewer.

The juxtaposition between small town life where everyone seems to know everyone else (and their business) and the wonderfully filmed sequences of thunderheads crackling with lightning set the tone as Curtis and wife Samantha (well played by Jessica Chastain) go about their daily lives only to be thrown into having to face the darkness - these scenes of outrage, followed by redemption and acceptance show the strength of their love and their commitment to each other and the family they have created. It's this bond as well as the way in which Nichols so easily gives us a view of a way of life that not only adds to the suspense but separates this film from so many other neo apocalyptical films (for in this case the film isn't so much about the apocalypse (because it may or may not be real, or may or may not be mere metaphor), but about a man's mind and his soul, as well as the soul of his loving wife.

The film certainly takes a measured pace in doling out the story, which at times dampens the tension, but overall this is a terrific study in humanity and how the human mind is capable of projecting our fears into our dreams - whether or not this is an illness, or part of the human condition is part and parcel of the film's mystery. Check it out and decide for yourself.
January 5, 2013
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Curtis lives in a small town and lives a quiet life working construction as a means to support himself, his wife, and their young daughter who is deaf. One day, Curtis begins having nightmarish visions and dreams of a major storm of apocalyptic visions, and becomes feverishly driven to work on a storm shelter and make the necessary proportions to survive what could be the virtual end of mankind. Since he does have a family history of mental illness, it could all just be in his head, but even then, he is compelled to see his quest through to the end, despite the toll it takes on his personal and professional lives, and the persecution he receives from others.

This is not only the best 'descent into madness' film I've seen in a while, it's one of the best of that type in general. The modest budget indie route was also probably the best way to go for this film too, because I can't see it working as well as a major budget studio affair. The film has a great atmosphere that is tense, subtle, creepy, and really nuanced.

What effects there are are great, but the real strength lies with the writing, but especially the acting. Michael Shannon knocks it out of the park here, and this is one of his bet performances. His casting could seem slightly on the nose, but I think he still really sells it perfectly. Jessica Chastain appears as his concerned wife, and I'm really starting to like her. It probably helps too that she's been in a ridiculous number of movies over the past couple of years, but I don't think it's just the high amount of exposure. She really is a capable actress who should have a long and fruitful career ahead of her.

I like that the film spends a lot of time towing the line between what could be real, and what could be imaginary. It really sucks you in and draws out the suspense even more. Answers are given, but even then, you still find yourself questioning things. This is some of the most compelling film making I've seen in a while.

Definitely give this one a shot. It's haunting and really unforgettable.
November 1, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Take Shelter

    1. Curtis: I still take off my boots not to wake her.
    2. Samantha: I still whisper.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (13 months ago)
    1. Curtis LaForche: What if it's not ended?
    – Submitted by Alex M (19 months ago)
    1. Curtis: You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.
    – Submitted by macky s (2 years ago)
    1. Curtis LaForche: Next vacation, we're going to the mountains.
    – Submitted by Michael S (2 years ago)
    1. Curtis: Is anyone else seeing this?
    – Submitted by 3guys 1 (2 years ago)
    1. Curtis LaForche: [prophetic] There's a storm comin'!
    – Submitted by Tom W (2 years ago)
View all quotes (9)

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