The Shuttered Room
by David Greene
the time of this review The
Shuttered Room only seems to only be available as part of
a double feature and has to share disc space with the film It! (reviewed here).
Although The Shuttered
Room is set on a small American island, you might be
surprised to learn that it is a British Film and was filmed in and
around the UK. So, if some of the American accents sound a little
dodgy, now you know the reason why.
The main stars of the film are Carol Lynley, Oliver Reed and Gig Young.
Lynley plays the central character, Susanna Felton, who was sent away
from her island home when she was just a young girl, but returns many
years later to claim her inheritance. Young plays Susanna’s
husband, Mike, and Reed plays island bad boy, Ethan Whately.
Much of the story revolves around a creature that is kept chained up in
the attic of the watermill where Susanna’s parents used to live. The
creature is not shown until the last few minutes of the film, but the
viewer is made aware of its presence throughout the film by being shown
the action from the creature’s perspective and the occasional close-up
of its chain dragging across the floor.
The Shuttered Room
begins with a short pre-credit sequence that shows the young Susanna
being tucked into bed by her mother. Her mother has forgotten to lock
the attic door though, so when she and her husband go to sleep the
thing from the attic creeps down the stairs (one can only presume that
she forgot to chain it up as well), wakes up Susanna and scares the
living daylights out of her.
After the attic monster is safely locked away again the opening credits
roll against a backdrop of a young woman travelling in a car. This is
Susanna, of course, and she is on her way back to the island with her
husband. She has no memory of her childhood, but has a bad feeling
about returning to the island. So bad in fact, that Mike has to stop
the car at one point and let her out. Fortunately he manages to calm
her down and persuades her to face her fears and return to the mill.
Susanna inherited it on her twenty-first birthday and Mike thinks it
may make a good holiday home.
Many of the islanders are related to Susanna, but nobody appears to be
glad to see her, except perhaps her Aunt Agatha, and even she is keen
to get her to leave the island and tries to frighten her away with
stories of a family curse. The witch-like Agatha seems to have a lot of
respect on the island, but Mike is not a superstitious man and he is
determined that he and Susanna will remain on the island.
It has to be said that Agatha only appears to want to protect the
Feltons, but the rest of the islanders appear pretty hostile and Ethan
is the worst of a bad bunch. On the one hand he is unhappy about
Susanna’s return because he always expected that, when Agatha died, he
would inherit the mill. On the other hand, however, he is filled with
lust for his cousin, as are many of the local rabble he hangs around
with, and for much of the film it is hard not to fear for Mike and
There are a few scenes where it looks as if Susanna
may be raped or even gang raped, but fortunately Mike is never far away
and the first time that Ethan tries to force his attentions on Susanna
Mike, demonstrates some pretty snazzy martial arts moves and kicks the
bad boy’s ass. There is no doubt who the better man is, but it is a
temporary victory. Guys like Ethan never learn and he has plenty of
friends who are willing to help him out.
The threat from the local community, and especially from Ethan, remains
pretty constant throughout the film and there are some very tense
moments, but the viewer is never allowed to forget that there is
something nasty up in the attic, and the monster is all the more
disturbing because it is unseen.
All in all The
Shuttered Room is a pretty good film. The story is a
little basic I suppose, and if different actors had been used I doubt
that it would have worked as well as it does, but Oliver Reed had such
a natural talent for playing the bad guy that he dominates nearly every
scene he is in, and Young and Lynley make the Felton’s appear to be
such a nice couple that it's is easy to want everything to turn out
okay for them.
has a runtime of about an hour and forty minutes and it is a must-see
if you are a fan of Oliver Reed. Ditto to that for Carol Lynley fans.
It’s is not a particularly fast-paced film though, so if you are
looking for high action and/or plenty of special effects, you may be
looking in the wrong place. If you prefer creepy to flashy though, and
are looking for something to send a few shivers down your spine, give
it a try. It might be an oldie, but it is still a goodie and should
make a good addition to any collection of horror DVDs.
4 out of 5.
Charles Lloyd Pack
Susannah / Sarah
The Barge Master
Susannah (as a child)