Shelley | Chicago Reader

Shelley

A young Romanian housekeeper (Cosmina Stratan) agrees to become a surrogate mother for her employers, a Danish married couple with infertility issues (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Peter Christoffersen), in this creepy but unfocused horror film of the demon-baby variety (2016). The couple eschew modern technology and live off the grid; why they do this is never explained, though placing the characters in an antiquated cabin in the woods allows director Ali Abbasi (who cowrote the script with Maren Louise Käehne) to milk the atmospherics of their isolation and show how their shrinking world contrasts with the fetus expanding too fast inside the young woman's belly. The film appears to be about the fear and uncertainty involved in carrying someone else's child, but viewers hoping for an exciting or even thought-provoking payoff will have to settle for a steady thrum of prenatal anxiety. In English and subtitled Danish and Romanian.

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