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    1. 1.1

      Hanalei Nv

      I think the movie operates on two levels. Curtis is indeed mentally ill, and this runs in his family. He is intelligent and committed to his family, and responsible enough to address it, but he is still ill. At the same time, in a broader sense, a storm is coming – financial, environmental, evological, etc. Lacking a social safety net, many Americans are one or two paycheques from financial disaster, like Curtis. Health problems including mental ones can ruin a family with no insurance, where insurance is predicated on a job that may be lost for those very same health problems. Oil dependence and global warming are real. Curtis wonders whether anyone else sees the coming storm – well, do we? To me, the end is conceptual, not literal. That the daughter sees the coming storm, with her own funnel (for the first time, there are two funnels), reflects that she too may harbour future mental illness – after all, it runs in the family. The wife accepts that this challenge is part of their family and she will stay and spport them, and they will cope together. There is no literal apocalypse, but the visuals remind us that tough times for this family and for us all globally are indeed here.

      1. 1.1.1


        Saw the movie last night … powerful, very confronting
        My take on the ending saw Curtis having another of his dreams
        But it’s different this time …
        Curtis is ‘sort of’ comforted in the knowledge that his wife knows he’s suffering and with that understanding she ‘shares’ (in his dream at least) his experience of the storm and by extension the oily raindrops.
        One thing is certain … the family have a tough road ahead of them but their love, honesty, understanding and commitment will help
        Great movie



          I really truly wish they’d make a second part to this movie. It was awesome. Take Shelter deserves a continuation, part two. Or is there one and I don’t know bout it.

  1. 2


    Great review for the most part, but I disagree with your assessment of the ending. As you stated, his  “nightmares were actually exposing his relationships with other people,” and I thought the ending merely continued that. 

    So, I didn’t see the ending as a reprieve, i.e. that his visions were true and he was sane after all. I took the final scene as another dream, but this time his family was there with him because he finally allowed them into his illness and they decided to stay. 

    1. 2.1


      Yes. If this is how you interpreted this movie, you may be one of the only people who are fully capable of understanding it’s true genius from beginning to end. I too, agree with the original review, but disagree with the assessment of the ending. Curtis was planning to receive treatment following the Myrtle Beach trip. He finally allowed his family into his disease and into his mind, even though this was done through a dream. Therefore, Brad K’s assessment that the movie was inconsistent due to the fact that each dream was never validated is false. Just because the film chose not to go on to show Curtis having more dreams in sequential order allowing his dog and his friend into his illness, does not mean that those were not the obvious next steps previous to treatment. Or, maybe since it is his family he finds most precious to him, they are the only ones he needed to let in before committing to a treatment facility. His other relationships would be mended later. In either case, the director and writers of this movie did NOT just throw that ending in there to create movie talk. This was planned. And this was creatively genius.

      1. 2.1.1


        I agree with ProjectMelton and Woodwin completely, but I would like to add one more hypothesis. I believe that Curtis’ daughter was always in Curtis’ schizophrenic ‘comfort zone’. Notice she joined him in his earlier hallucinations and he was always her protectorate (regardless if he failed or not). The ending is a reiteration of the doomsday-type hallucinations that Curtis was having the entire movie, except with one twist: his wife was finally joining them.
        Curtis’ daughter could’ve been let into Curtis’ schizophrenic ‘comfort zone’ for several reasons. Either because she represents some youthful ignorance and therefore would not judge her father as harshly as adults, or maybe her own disability helps Curtis feel less alone, or, most likely, Curtis’ unfaltering love for his daughter simply trumps everything (minus his mental illness).

        Just throwing theories out there.

        The more I think about it, the more I love this movie!

  2. 3

    Brad K

    I just saw this movie last night. I thought it was phenomenal. But the last minute was horribly disappointing. I found your review while Googling for someone who agrees with me. (I have no idea how this could be justified as a worthwhile use of my time.) I think the movie is unambiguous: he is developing schizophrenia. 

    In my view, the ending does not answer a lingering question about whether he was receiving prophecy or was hallucinating. That question was already satisfyingly answered for me by the disconnect between his visions and what was happening. His dream about his dog’s aggression was never validated. And his friend’s animosity at the Lion’s Club meal seemed to come more from his friend’s love for him and sense of having been deeply betrayed. There was no indication that his friend, who was consistently supportive until feeling betrayed, would have turned on him without the visions occurring. Lastly, his dream about his wife was also clearly opposed to the reality of their relationship.

    The ending suggests that his doomsday visions were real. But it does not address or validate his paranoia. In fact, leaving those unaddressed—while supposedly rejecting the cinematically more courageous decision to let the protagonist simply be mentally ill—introduces contradictions a plot that previously had been clean of them. My cynical assumption is that this ending was chosen over alternates to generate buzz-creating conversation on the walk out of the theater: “Was he crazy? Was the world ending? I don’t know… What do you think?” I found this sad, shallow, and harmful twist at the end a cowardly cinematic decision.

    1. 3.1


      His dog attacked him in the dream because the motor oil rain makes people and animals crazy. Just like all the other attacks from people in his dreams.

  3. 4

    30,000 Monkeys

    Um, hello people, it’s pretty obvious what happened in the ending.

    They ALL have schizophrenia. Duh.

    1. 4.1

      Brad K

      Haha. That was my first thought: “So she caught schizophrenia from him?”

    2. 4.2


      We the only interpretation of the ending that makes sense, is that it’s a dream he’s having…

  4. 5


    Completely disagree with what was said about the ending. I finished watching it no more than 5 minutes ago with my family and I liked the ending. It also leaves it open to a sequel whereas if you just left it as him being crazy then there is not as much room for a sequel. Equally I would have liked an extra 15 minutes to find out if they got back to the shelter or stayed at the beach and let the tsunami kill them.

    1. 5.1


      I just watched it. At first confused by ending. But considering his medical history. He was suffering from Schizo which was whole point of film. I will take the crime scene theory… Which is more plausible? Projects view that he was sane and had apocalyptic visions OR Woodwin’s view that he was having a dream letting his wife and child into his dream as he was at peace to fact he would soon get treatment. Along with fact his wife chose to stay with him. Thus she was with him in his dream. BTW that was not a tsunami at Myrtle beach. You people believing he was sane and having visions are REACHING… The storm was same as in his dream. Plus what rain do you know of that looks like motor oil? At first I was annoyed at ending. But Woodwin’s take is pretty good. I am sure director trying for the different viewer interpretation to ending. BUT the film was about mental illness… As I stated which is more plausible? Apocalyptic visions or the guy was suffering from Schizo? The answer lies in that question. Sooo in my view it was a dream and he finally got the treatment he needed and readjusted his life. BTW I understand his boss view in firing him. But I found hard time buying the whole job losing scenario. Why would that guy who was his friend get himself in trouble to get him fired? Just because he dropped him off his crew? His ex friend knew he had a wife and kid to feed. Plus since his boss was a small business owner. I seriously doubt that his health insurance was great insurance as let on in the film.

      1. 5.1.1


        There was nothing confusing about the ending. It was real. The idea that it was another dream is boring and depressing. The point of the movie is to portray a man facing up to his worst fear…which, in this case, was abandoning his family the way his mother did him. This fear was faced and conquered in the shelter scene when he opens the doors. He agrees to get help and he is no longer afraid. Then the real storm comes (and yes that was a tsunami) and they are terrified and yet in awe and his acknowledges that he was right all along. I am not sure as to whether they can survive the storm. Who cares if it is not logical…IT’S A MOVIE. And who is to say people can’t have premonitions.



          That most definitely wasn’t a tsunami, besides, what should’ve caused it? The storm? Hardly. It takes tectonic activity to create a tsunami and as far as I could tell, no earthquake was involved. One could argue for the plausibility of the storm creating large waves and that is absolutely true, but there’s a difference in both the looks and behaviour of waves caused by wind and waves caused by tectonic activity. Had that been a tsunami you would’ve seen the water withdraw from the coast when being soaked into the form of a wave in the scale of a tsunami.
          I do agree that the ending was in fact the real deal.



            Thank you. I’m very confused as to why everyone keeps calling funnel clouds, or tornadoes, tsunamis. They are two very different things. I’m getting annoyed with it.

          2. Harwhsid

            That was a multiple vortex tornado in the end, and it was the real deal, (no dream).

          3. chaz

            they were water spouts not f4 tornados trust me water spouts are minimul where as f4s-f6s take out multiple miles plus the where far enough out to evacuate


            Rob Frey

             The water was withdrawn from the coast by almost a kilometer; did you even watch the damn movie?

    2. 5.2


      They were in Mrytle Beach on vacation. The “Shelter” was back at home. I’m thinkin a tsunami coming straight for you doesn’t offer a lot of options. I like to think
      They became their own “Shelter” as one, and got wet…

      1. 5.2.1


        I dont recall a tsunami,,, however from living on the coast my whole life i did see two small water spouts that are no where in comparison to the f4’s you see in the midwest. Hurricanes warning give you days to prepare  so i dont think that was the case either 

  5. 6


    Don’t agree with ‘contagious schizophrenia’ (!) or that he was having a dream at the end.  He was given prophetic dreams – end of story as far as I can see – but I do want to know what happened when that storm did hit – hope it is a sequel and not too terrifying or destructive.

  6. 7

    Brad K

    Interesting! Please do go on.

  7. 8


    Well, I just watched it. I thought it was a cool movie slow at times. Kinda gay that in the end they all die or at least that’s how i saw it. But nobody every listens to a Cuckoo!!

  8. 9


    I believe the storm was real in the ending scene, mainly because on the beach his daughter sign language him the word ” storm ” and remember her mother taught her that , and the father was not around when the mother had shown the daughter how to spell storm and gesture it out. There’s no way he could have been hallucinating and correctly hallucinating his daughter perfectly signing the word ” storm” when he in fact had never even seen her use it before in the film . That was my only clue.

    1. 9.1


      I noticed that as well.My friend even suggested that she might have schizophrenia,because she is in almost in all his paranoid dreams, but that is absurd.We however don`t know if she inherited it.A think the ending should be viewed metaphorically.If we believe the ending truly is real then we think like Curtis.We have then adapted his mind and build his shelter with him and that is actually good writing.
      Also note the oil rain and he wetting his bed comparison.The patterns of Sam`s broider the lightning in the sky (schizophrenia =split mind)and the sand castle splitting like a lightning beam in the end.Just after that the storm came.
      Perhaps this is a metaphor for the illness the shelter his defenses,but the storm following him no matter where he is.His family now in the storm with him,their lives forever changed as the traditions are replaced.(Yearly beach trip ,by visiting Curtis in hospital or trying to get him to get out of the shelter.)I think I`ll have to watch this film again.The ending although could in this context is still confusing.

  9. 10

    another guy from ky

    Its a modern Noah and the arc story. He was considered crazy for building the arc etc… I believe the end is not a dream. I think everyone was against this poor guy and the enly ones that beleived him was his wife and daughter and at the end her reaction to the storm was he was right all along..Great acting great story even better cinematography. I love movies that leave you talking afterwards.

  10. 11


    Firstly, i just want to say i loved this movie. I can honestly say a film hasn’t affected me as much for quite some time, I really can’t wait for his next film Mud. I felt this was better than Shotgun stories so i hope the trend continues.Obviously the final scene has provoked some debate, the only reason i’ve seen this is because i thought it was beautifully shot and the score was so spine tingling i wanted to read other peoples opinions, i thought i had the ends meaning pretty well covered.
    Anyway, here’s how i took it. The oil rain in particular indicated his dream state all the way through the film, why would that be any different for the ending?
    The only difference was his final dream showed that he felt he wasn’t on his own anymore, subconciously knowing he had the support of his family, a sign that he had come to terms with his mental illness and was prepared to face the future.It was overtly over the top with a big tidal wave, receding shoreline and double tornados. Clearly intended to be another dream following the tone of the film.
    This doesn’t make it an unhappy ending, it makes it real which is what the film captures so beautifully, people suffer from mental illness it doesn’t mean life is doomed. You learn to control and live happily with it.

  11. 12


    Ok , call me simple, I did not like the ending. Why do I have to wonder , was he right all along, is this another dream, is he schiizophrenic? Having to make up your own conclusion to the ending of a movie was not satisfying. Like a guy having dreams of falling to his death and the end is him standing at a cliffs edge, yet does not jump, THE END.I sat thru 2 hours of a movie with no ending or conclusion. I don’t go to the movies to have to sit and analize the ending.Like having sex and the partner just gets up and walks out, no reason, explanation and most important,no satisfaction.

    1. 12.1


      After reading this, I understand why your partner walks out.

  12. 13


    When she is looking out to the storm at the end of the movie, the waves are not even moving at all. This may just be a movie goof or since it is a dream and all… Although the sign language showed it would be really happening.. who knows.. it doesn’t tell you forsure either way, playing tricks on the audience on purpose. I would have to say he is just back to his hallucinating. Also, I noticed the beach house fence was corrugated metal that resembled the shipping container.

    1. 13.1


      The waves aren’t moving because the tide has pulled far out to sea. You can see this happening in the reflection in the windows behind his wife’s head, and just before his daughter points out that there is a storm, the sound of the waves has ceased entirely. When they look back at the oncoming storm, there’s a tsunami coming which is growing very noticeably.

      I’ve got a horror of tidal waves, so for me this was absolutely horrifying.

  13. 14


    Excellent movie and great acting! I actually was pleased with the ending because it showed that his visions were real. Although I am sure that they died in the end, looking at his facial expression and nod that he exchanged with his wife, it seemed that he felt validated knowing that he wasn’t really crazy after all. His wife’s reaction was extremely powerful when she realized that her husband’s vision’s were real.

  14. 15


    I just finished the film tonight, thought the acting was really amazing and they did an amazing job of sustaining tension throughout the film but the ending did feel a little sudden. Ive enjoyed listening to other people’s perspectives so I thought I’d throw in my two cents worth. It seemed to me that the style of the film wanted to leave the element of mystery about weather (yes, I know that should be “whether”) the visions were real or a symptom of schizophrenia. Now if this was a film designed to expose the struggles a family goes through when someone is diagnosed with schizo then I thought they totally missed the boat by trying to keep that question alive of “… or is he actually having visions of the future.”  I thought when he went to the counselor and explained that he’d read about the diagnosis for schizophrenia and had administered the self-test in the book that he was well underscoring and seemed to think he was closer to a psychotic break. I do think the storm at the ending was real partially because it felt fundamentally different from any of the other eireey dream sequences that seemed to be very stylized and recognizable as dreams. Its fun to consider the other possibilities and the film is definitely open to interpretation but in my opinion if this was a story about either the disease of Schizophrenia of the struggles a family endures then I think it allows the audience too many distractions from the disease itself. A Beautiful Mind, Fisher King, Awakenings, etc… those are films that I thought portray a better focus on the tragedy of the protagonists respective illnesses. So I’m sticking with the idea that it was a real storm, because a metaphorical representation of the family dealing with the disease together is one of the rare instances when a metaphor would actually say less about the character’s fortitude… there would be far more meaning in the literal scene in psychiatrists office at the end than could ever be conveyed in a dream-sequence facing a storm together. Just a thought, & certainly could be wrong but, like I said, I wanted to share my two cents for the next guy.

  15. 16


    Only read about half the comments here.. but how can you guys not make the connection between the dog and Dewart. Dewart betrays Curtis (as portrayed by the dog in his dreams) and leaves him with the lingering pain of losing his job.

    There is absolutely zero question about the ending being real or not. Of course it is real. The point of this movie is simply about strength of mind.

    Its funny.. everyone is commenting on his schizophrenic condition, yet its the complete opposite. His mind is strong, not weak. And this movie trails that, despite the opposing elements in his life (friends, work, society, “help”, etc.)

    The only question anyone should really be asking is weather [<– get it ;)] this family lives or dies. Everything else has been answered clearly!

    1. 16.1


      Agreed. The storm is real, his condition was different from his mom’s (she didn’t have dreams), and they all are going to die. He succumbed to the shrink’s recommendation to take a vacation before being locked away. They did, and they died for the lapse of will.

  16. 17


    Just finished the movie. One of the best I’ve seen in a while. Acting was outstanding. Great music, simple but effective. Originally, thought that the exit from the shelter would have been a great ending. The think this ending would have been hollow. Was he right or was he wrong?However, in the final ending, we witness the possibility that all three see a storm coming which seems to vindicate his sanity and makes him some sort of psychic. The audience always likes a happy ending. However, I think the real possibility is that the ending finishes with a schizophrenic episode that sucks the audience into his warped reality. It could easily be a dream that reinforces his belief in the storm to the extent that he validates it by having his wife and child share in his reality. A truly schizophrenic moment. Brilliant!

  17. 18


    The final scene is a dream.
    They have cancelled their trip to beach house. And the final scene takes place at the beach house.

  18. 19


    Just watched last night and really enjoyed the film. Lived up to its hype. My take on the ending is that he is both mentally ill and a prophet. This archetype is found throughout many stories in literature. Yes, he may be falling apart psychologically, but an aspect of that disintegration includes being a “seer.” The ending, I thought, was perfect if you view it through that lens.

  19. 20


    one more thought for pondering.  Who goes on vacation after loosing
    their job especially after making referecen throughout the movie about
    money being tight,I mean she was selling sewing at the flea market for income plus he was going into treatment and daughters surgery,the talked of cobra his insurance,, not very realistic

    1. 20.1


      However he was going away for help, it seems like the sane thing to have a vacation if I knew my husband was going away for a long time to get help, maybe she wanted him to have a great goodbye, happy memories , some time spending together before he goes.

  20. 21

    Guest B

    So was he having premonitions?  If the final storm was real, how ironic they aren’t home to use the shelter.

  21. 22


    I loved this movie. It was the ending that made it great. Here is my take. The scene in the storm shelter sets you up. No doubt about it, he is mentally ill. There was hope for a short time and you could see it from both the husband and wife, but when nothing happens it becomes clear to everyone he is sick.  At that point they both except that and go on vacation to relax and let it sink in. At that point I did accept he was sick, there was no other explanation.  Now move to the final beach scene.  When the parents see the massive storm coming at them, their first reaction is, [Thank God He’s Not Sick After All.]  Their biggest problem in life has disappeared. Unfortunately the new problem is larger. That is a tidal wave coming at them, there will be no escape. I think that is the point, no matter what problems you have it can be worse.

  22. 23


    I loved this movie. It was the ending that made it great. Here is my take. The scene in the storm shelter sets you up. No doubt about it, he is mentally ill. There was hope for a short time and you could see it from both the husband and wife, but when nothing happens it becomes clear to everyone he is sick.  At that point they both except that and go on vacation to relax and let it sink in. At that point I did accept he was sick, there was no other explanation.  Now move to the final beach scene.  When the parents see the massive storm coming at them, their first reaction is, [Thank God He’s Not Sick After All.]  Their biggest problem in life has disappeared. Unfortunately the new problem is larger. That is a tidal wave coming at them, there will be no escape. I think that is the point, no matter what problems you have it can be worse.

    1. 23.1


      I too enjoyed the ending.  I have read through some interpretations of the film listed below and have to say that I think some people have completely missed the mark.  Without a doubt he was having prophetic visions.  The ending was not an extension of his suspected mental illness and it was not spread to his wife and daughter.  Here are the reasons why it is not a mental illness:
             –  The symptoms of his mother’s mental illness onset were different than the visions he was having.
             – When he saw the councilor he explained to her that he had assessed himself for schizophrenia and was a “5” or “6” and a schizophrenic was i think a “14”, which meant according to that test he was pretty far away from that.  Also, he stated he was having 2 out of 5 of the symptoms of a schizophrenic, which would also suggest that he did not have this ailment.
             – All of his visions or dreams involved his daughter, and no one besides him ever spoke.  In the end scene, his wife is clearly aware and speaking, and they even show the scene from HER perspective which makes it pretty obvious that it is actually happening.
        The only thing I don’t fully get and have been trying to wrap my head around is, was this scene an apocalyptic inference, or just a huge catastrophe.  I mean they were out at Myrtle Beach on vacation from Ohio…  That’s a pretty far distance.  He told the townspeople that they were all doomed but I can’t imagine that a tsunami would reach from the East coast all the way to Ohio, although, that ocean receding all that way in the end, and the building tidal wave way off in the distance was pretty damn freaky.

      1. 23.1.1


        People are forgetting that the biggest threat from Curtis’s nightmare storms was from animals and people turning violent because of something toxic in the oily rain.  I didn’t see any tsunami coming, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one coming.  Curtis mainly feared people and animals turning crazy and not having enough food to last their rampage.  That his wife observed the oily rain and answered “OK” just before the final thunderclap tells me that she accepted Curtis’s warning visions.  People shouldn’t expect dream visions to be exact.  Curtis’s nightmare storm obviously covered a huge chunk of the U.S.  I think the family probably survived and would love to see a Take Shelter II in which they leave the ravaged beach and return to their ravaged town and are greeted by apologies, especially from any neighbors, family or co-workers that made use of their shelter while animals and people went crazy.  I could see Curtis humbly gaining fame and starting a blog on his dreams to spread his warnings.

  23. 24


    Personally, I think the end was a dream, for reasons listed already, and some other ones:

    They were on the myrtle beach…in the summer, and nobody else was around.  They certainly did not have the money to go to a private beach house area.  Also, there was a tsunami coming.  Tsunami’s are not caused by storms or high winds, but by earthquakes, and if there was an earthquake people would be informed on the beach.

  24. 25


    Saw the movie today and enjoyed the beauty of the film and the study of one person’s spiral into mental illness. After having read all the comments above, I decided that the end was real and the family had a sense of togetherness. The interesting comment about the fence  being like the storage container shelter created some variances of my conclusion of the movie. Great film. Will rent again.

    1. 25.1


      rent again? how old are you, 60?

  25. 26


    The tsunami clearly represented his sickness fully engulfing him. He sees it, his wife and daughter see it. The storms, dreams, whatever, represent stages of the sickness ……

  26. 27


    Perhaps some should read the interviews with Michael Shannon (Curtis) and director Jeff Nichols. Nichols clearly states the movie was NOT about schizophrenia and the possibility of Curtis having it but the anxietys of life. Nichols goes on to discuss the anxiety he was having in his life and how it was a factor in the film. He also clears the air on the ending and basically says that you can take it how you want but at the end, all three (Curtis, Samantha, and Hannah) ARE seeing the same thing. It is NOT a hallucination!

  27. 28
  28. 29


    you guys are looking into it too far… he’s not mentally ill at all everything he dreams about come true in some way… think about it, even the seen here he is dremsing about his wife come true. she was pissed when he got fired, prob wanted to kill him for a minute. his dreams were premonitions, the tsunami was the big one hangin over his head

  29. 30

    Regan Harris Figueroa

    I think he just had premonitions about storms due to come. The “seeing’s” frightened him and made him paranoid because he hasn’t learned how to cope with what he “knows” already. In the end his wife also sees the yellow tainted rain which she didn’t see in the beginning when he did. So that led me to believe he is not crazy

  30. 31


    A tsunami was coming, he wasn’t crazy
    How could you not get that?


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