Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring; Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Tova Stewart, Kathy Baker

Here’s one that goes on my top ten list for 2011.

Plot: Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) begins to have incredibly vivid nightmares. The dreams seems to tie in with the dark and threatening skies he alone sees. Like Noah, he begins to prepare for the coming—whatever it will be—by building a storm shelter instead of an ark. His wife, Samantha (Chastain) and deaf daughter, Hannah (Stewart) are mystified, as is his friend, Dewart (Whigham). Complicating the issue of his dreams is his mother (Baker) who has spent the majority of her life in a psychiatric institution.

The movie doesn’t tip its hand. We watch, unsure. Is Curtis is precognizant or unbalanced as he spends all his money on this storm shelter, seeks help, and loses almost everything. As he wrestles with his demons—whether imagined or real. There is not a misstep in his performance. He is sympathetic but scary at the same time.

This is a beautifully made movie—that evokes terror without relying on special effects. The small town Curtis lives in feels real; the people, real; his house, real. This is a fine follow-up to SHOTGUN STORIES, where Nichols and Shannon collaborated in 2007. Shannon is one of the best younger actors in movies today and Chastain his worthy match. I might have ended the movie ten minutes earlier; see if you agree.

Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in