That is the basic premise of “Take Shelter,” a painfully slow-moving film about a workingman losing his mind as apocalyptic nightmares and visions consume him. Starring wild-eyed Michael Shannon in another psycho part (he was Oscar-nominated for one in 2008’s “Revolutionary Road”), “Shelter” is filled with enough environmental special effects to frighten Pharaoh.
Curtis LaForche (Shannon) is a soft-spoken salt-ofthe earth oil driller in northern Ohio. He has a nice piece of property, fine house, pretty, devoted wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain of “The Help,” “The Debt,” “The Tree of Life”), and a sweet young daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf. The nightmares and visions have been happening long before Curtis makes mention of them, even to his wife. With his daughter’s hearing-enhancing surgery weeks away, he doesn’t want to rock the boat by drawing attention to his creeping mental illness. Then, Samantha discovers that he has secretly taken a home-improvement loan to expand the family underground storm shelter. The result is outrage and a sharp slap. Maybe, Samantha should have been suspicious because Curtis’ mother, Sarah (Kathy Baker), is an institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic.
There is a big difference between Curtis’ and his mom’s malaise. She is resigned to her insanity, while he can’t shake the feeling his prescience is real: The end of the world is coming! But is the audience supposed to believe the Prophesy of St. Curtis?
Judging by the final scene, writer/director Jeff Nichols seems to be leaning toward the Judgment Day. Either way, “Take Shelter” makes you want to turn off the News and hide underground.