Hidden Horror Gems is back! For one movie: Take Shelter (2011).

A couple of things straight off:

1. Take Shelter is, unfortunately, not available on Netflix for streaming, which is part of my usual criteria.

2. Although it won a "Best Horror or Thriller" film award, I would definitely categorize it as more thriller than horror.

I have had Take Shelter in my Netflix DVD queue for who knows how long, but certainly for more than a year. I have had the disc in my possession for at least a week until I finally felt settled down enough tonight to press Play. I had only read the brief Netflix synopsis so long ago so my memory on what it was about was not only fuzzy, but had little data to start with. The movie was not what I expected.

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Take Shelter is drama with thriller and horror elements. It has fantastic acting by the whole cast. You think you know the path this movie is taking you down, and you keep waiting and waiting for it, but the dialog will not even feed you any cliches.

Michael Shannon, playing the shelter-obsessed father coping with the sudden onset of mental illness symptoms, blew me away with his acting chops. The last movie that I saw that dealt with mental illness with great acting was John Cassavetes's A Woman Under the Influence, but that movie, with its raw and realistic family dynamics was more docu-drama and tough to call entertainment. Take Shelter manages to straddle the line between authentic portrayal of mental illness symptoms and some fantastical elements (what does that image with the flock of birds remind you of, ODeckers?).

So, my recommendation is to get off your laurels and check this film out if you haven't already.

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Some official laurels: