‘Harlan Coben’s Shelter’ Threads the Finest of Lines Between Riveting Mystery and Jumping Clean Over the Shark

What number of twists is simply too many for a TV sequence? It’s an open-ended query certainly, however the reply primarily based on private desire may have an enormous bearing on how a lot of a kick you’re prone to get out of Harlan Coben’s Shelter.

In reality, there are such a lot of twists, turns, revelations, rug-pulls, misdirects, and crimson herrings peppered all through Prime Video’s new thriller sequence that even wading knee-deep into specifics presents uneven waters with reference to spoilers. This assessment covers all eight episodes, however with the primary three premiering as we speak earlier than weekly debuts up till the finale airs on Sept. 22, it might be impolite to provide an excessive amount of away.

Coben’s works have confirmed to be a fertile floor for Netflix – with the streaming service having delivered seven episodic originals primarily based on his works with an eighth on the way in which – and the strengths of Shelter state the case for Amazon’s platform getting in on the motion, too. There are lulls alongside the way in which, however well-rounded characters, an interesting forged, and the overriding sense that issues might bounce clear over the shark at any minute shall be greater than sufficient to maintain viewers hooked between the primary and final installments.

by way of Prime Video

Issues open with a bang, as we’re launched to Jaden Michael’s teenage protagonist Mickey Bolitar, who swiftly finally ends up being roped right into a cardinal sin for any movie or TV character who desires to remain alive; an in-car singalong. Certain sufficient, his father Brad (Kristoffer Polaha) finally ends up lifeless and his mom Kitty (Narci Regina) is displaced out of the image, leaving him to be raised by Constance Zimmer’s aunt Shira in smalltown Kasselton, New Jersey.

On his first day at college, Mickey immediately befriends Adrian Greensmith’s Arthur Spindell, who adopts the nickname “Spoon” and by some means manages to make an impression regardless of being the 8456th actor to play the “neurotic and eccentric greatest good friend” this yr alone. Finally, Abby Corrigan’s Ema makes their duo a trio, and so they discover themselves plunged headlong into unraveling the thriller of fellow highschool newcomer Ashley Kent (Samantha Bugliaro), who vanishes and not using a hint.

By some means, it’s all tied to an occasion in his father’s previous that no person desires to talk of, resulting in many suspicious glances between the varied residents who’ve known as Kasselton their dwelling because the day they have been born, though it rapidly turns into clear that Tovah Feldshuh’s native loopy outdated girl dubbed the “Bat Woman” is by some means on the middle of all of it, with the varied threads needing untangled stretching again a long time.

Picture by way of Prime Video

For higher or worse, Shelter is outlined by its tropes and archetypes. Title one side of both the highschool or conspiratorial subgenres, and also you’d greatest imagine it’s current and accounted for. Erstwhile hero crippled by daddy points? Bespectacled greatest buddy with pc experience? Socially outcast member of the core crew who isn’t what they appear? Shady males in fits lurking in shadows? The favored jock riddled with doubt and insecurities? Crumbling marriages? A subplot revolving fully round social media? Small city anxieties being buried for many years to the detriment of everybody concerned? Oh sure, it’s all right here.

Among the tutorial sequences do drag, however you’re actually by no means for much longer than 10 minutes away from the subsequent narrative sleight of hand. Whereas it does hold issues transferring alongside properly – albeit a number of notable moments the place the pacing slows to a crawl – the breakneck nature of getting so many main reveals crammed into every episode does reduce the influence considerably, and it even reaches a degree the place you possibly can be left feeling exhausted and numb by the point the newest game-changer performs its hand.

That being stated, the easy chemistry between the leads handily papers over the cracks by advantage of Michael, Greensmith, and Corrigan’s glorious turns, whereas Zimmer holds up the older era’s finish of the discount with a extra introspective and nuanced flip, a far cry from Bat Woman’s relatively jarring existence as somebody who feels they’ve been ripped proper out of a nineteenth Century Gothic novel by way of aesthetic and ominous intonations each time she opens her mouth.

Picture by way of Prime Video

The latter is indicative of what’s an altogether weird tonal imbalance that plagues Shelter from starting to finish. The best way the Bat Woman is launched would possibly lead you to imagine one thing supernatural is afoot, whereas the stilted dialogue and highschool cliches really feel ripped straight from the Eighties, the largest underlying thriller comes out of nowhere and feels completely misplaced for what’s speculated to be a contained, localized thriller, and the leaps in logic often come proper out of the blue. Not taking it too critically is the perfect strategy, as a result of regardless of its very trendy trappings, the sequence is mainly pure pulp.

There are some severe, well timed, and related topics dealt with with various levels of subtlety and success, too, however for essentially the most half the main target stays on taking part in it secure in these respects whereas concurrently going for broke in piling twists on high of twists, just for one more twist to emerge quickly after that repeatedly shakes the foundations of what you suppose Shelter really is, by no means thoughts what it’s both speculated to or attempting to be. Once more, that’s a tough distinction to make when one second the gang is in too deep with a world trafficking ring, just for them to swiftly take their seats for the massive basketball recreation virtually instantly afterwards, full with a complete choreographed dance quantity.

It doesn’t at all times work, however anybody with a gentle spot for the style goes to derive not less than some enjoyment from Shelter, which can but find yourself with a second season relying on how issues pan out.


Prime Video will get into the Harlan Coben enterprise with ‘Shelter,’ and there is loads of enjoyable available if you happen to can deal with twists being piled on high of turns, that are then drenched in misdirects and crimson herrings.