In the ever-expanding landscape of streaming television, Prime Video has delivered yet another gripping drama to vie for our collective attention: Shelter, an adaptation of the Harlan Coben best-selling novel.
Marrying the allure of suburban secrecy with the pulse-pounding elements of a thriller, Shelter throws us into a tale of mystery, love, and betrayal that's both sumptuous and unnerving.
It dares to ask how well we really know those closest to us, peeling back the façade of the American dream one revelation at a time.
What Is Harlan Coben's Shelter About?
The story starts off relatively simply enough. Mickey Bolitar (Jaden Michael) and his family are heading back stateside so that Mickey can pursue a career in basketball. And then their lives are turned upside down when a car crash kills his father and injures his mother.
With few other options, Mikey moves to his father's home town of Kasselton in New Jersey where his aunt Shira (Constance Zimmer) has agreed to take care of him while his mother gets better.
School begins, Mickey makes a couple of friends – Arthur and Ema – but more importantly, he forms a connection with Ashley Kent. The two hit it off but when she doesn't show up for their date, things take a turn for the worst.
Ashley is missing and Mickey seems to be the only person who is really trying to find her. At the same time, an elderly woman, known as bat lady, who lives in a creepy old house on the street has told Mickey that his father, Brad Bolitar is actually still alive.
So now Mickey and his friends must uncover the truth about the car accident, find Ashley and figure out just who or what his family have been hiding from for decades.
Shelter Official Trailer
Is Shelter Worth Watching?
Without giving any more details than I have above, Shelter has multiple storylines operating at the same time. Some are to flesh out the characters, others move the plot along.
And that's where the problem lies. From the get-go, the whole idea that a teenage boy would suddenly decide to risk his life to find a girl he briefly met in school because she didn't show up at a diner, is as far-fetched as you can imagine.
But he needs to in order to understand what Bat Lady is talking about and from there, his own family history and its relationship to her become important.
Essentially, the story needed one big event, however implausible, to kick start all the dominos falling and get to the bigger narrative.
The problems don't end there, however. Casting-wise, some hit the mark – Spoon, Ema and Rachel are all good but whoever wrote for Mickey's character needs to have a serious rethink. He's either wooden and devoid of any personality or over-the-top dramatic. There's no happy medium.
So as the episodes roll along and the plot becomes ever more ridiculous, there's really only one reason to keep watching. To find out if Brad is actually still alive.
Otherwise, despite a decent start, Shelter just becomes so contrived and unrealistic that it's painful to watch.
Given that it was created by both Harlan Coben and his daughter Charlotte Coben, you'd think they would have done a better job bringing his book to life. After all, they've previously made The Stranger and Stay Close, both of which are much better.
Harlan Coben's Shelter Cast
Jaden Michael as Mickey Bolitar, Myron's nephew whose father was killed in an accident and who had to move to his aunt's in suburban New Jersey to start a new life
Constance Zimmer as Shira Bolitar, Mickey's aunt
Adrian Greensmith as Arthur “Spoon” Spindell, Mickey's best friend at school
Abby Corrigan as Ema Winslow, Mickey and Spoon's friend
Sage Linder as Rachel Caldwell
Brian Altemus as Troy Taylor
Didi Conn as Mrs. Friedman
Tovah Feldshuh as Bat Lady
Missi Pyle as Hannah Taylor
Samantha Bugliaro as Ashley Kent
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