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Ben Shapiro’s conservarvative media company, Daily Wire, is continuing its journey into filmmaking with a second film hitting screens this week. The fresh studio is continuing to offer strong alternatives to mainstream Hollywood output by eschewing political agendas and focusing on the simple act of telling a compelling story.

‘Shut In,’ which premieres Thursday night on Daily Wire’s YouTube channel, is a tight home invasion thriller, starring Rainey Qualley as a recovering drug addict taking care of her two young children while cleaning out a house she inherited in the middle of nowhere. Once her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious debt collector of sorts arrive, things go a bit off kilter, and by the time our protagonist finds herself locked in a pantry separated from her children, ‘Shut In’ becomes the sort of tension-building exercise ‘Disturbia’ director DJ Caruso is best at.

Of course, it’s almost irrelevant how good or bad ‘Shut In’ actually is, as in this tribal world of binary battling cultures, it’s already been written off by a portion of the potential audience, thanks to its connection to Shapiro. On top of its link with one of the left’s favorite bogeymen, the movie serves as a comeback vehicle for Vincent Gallo, a director and actor perhaps known as much for his blunt honesty and media trolling as his experimental filmmaking. 

Left-wing site Mary Sue led the charge in accusing Shapiro of making a “political move” with the casting of Gallo. Others have similarly written off the film by expressing more political discourse in their attacks than the movie actually has on display. 

That is the greatest accomplishment of Daily Wire’s first produced movie (last year’s ‘Run Hide Fight’ was picked up for distribution by them). The 84-minute thriller has plenty of merits on its own, but what is making Shapiro’s film efforts stand out from other conservatives who have jumped into the filmmaking world is that he’s ditched the focus on politics and instead put his trust in the hands of capable and mainly non-political filmmakers like producer Dallas Sonnier, the producer behind both ‘Shut In’ and ‘Run Hide Fight,’ as well as past cult favorites like ‘Bone Tomahawk,’ a gruesomely violent western/horror.

Sonnier’s films cold-shoulder blatant agendas in favor of stories that harken back to a time in cinema when mainstream studio content actually pushed the envelope and challenged political correctness. Shapiro could have, understandably, taken the easy route and opted to produce some micro-budgeted faith-based film that plays to a very specific, but loyal, crowd. Instead he’s pushed Daily Wire into a genre-centric, populist take on film competing directly with dying studio content that has become ever more heavily reliant on IP-continuity and social messages corporate media and liberal pundits can get behind. 

‘Shut In’ is genre to its core. Gallo owns his villainous role, portraying a character few in Hollywood would take: a drug-addicted, remorseless child abuser with limited facetime on camera, instead relying on his voice and disturbing, never-still background presence to build tension. 

On how he got Gallo to return to the world of acting after a nearly decade-long hiatus, knowing the divisive response he would receive, Sonnier jokes, “I worked with the Clinton Foundation. We have the Gallo dossier from Moscow and so that’s how we got him in the movie.”

In reality, Gallo was a fan of Sonnier’s darker, politically incorrect material and prepped for the movie in seven days by having a healthy tooth removed by a dentist and picking out his very specific (and oddly frightening) wardrobe for the movie. 

Again, not the type of film most would expect to have a Daily Wire logo or Ben Shapiro stamp of approval, but that’s exactly what makes Daily Wire’s foray into film different from those of past conservatives who promised, imaginary swords in the air, to charge into the leftwing cesspool of Hollywood and came back with material that feels like it was shot with little more than the budget scrambled together by a 16-year-old for his senior year film studies class. 

To give an idea of just how far Hollywood has gone in its sanitation of art, look no further than the rocky past of ‘Shut In,’ a movie that once had Jason Batemen attached as director and a major studio (New Line) behind it. There was only one wrinkle: Hollywood didn’t want Gallo in the villain role or for there to be a villain role at all; they preferred a dog. 

According to Sonnier, Covid -19 shut down the movie in prep and after a call to Daily Wire to revive the project, it was shot in Nashville, Tennessee in 30 days. 

“I’m all in on the Daily Wire,” Sonnier said. “I have such an affinity for what they’re doing.” 

‘Shut In’ works not because it is a ‘conservative’ movie (though there is a slight religious theme running through, but Sonnier says the film ended up being shot “verbatim” from Melanie Toast’s script). It works because it is a piece of art devoid of the social pressures of today and the political trappings that so many artists have gotten caught up in, some even embarrassingly apologizing for their past work. 

‘Shut In’ is a tight thriller that is directed efficiently and features a performance from Gallo that is truly something unique and worth the price of admission alone. 

If Shapiro’s Daily Wire can continue creating art that is not easily boxed in and can attract right-leaning artists who perhaps aren’t as overtly interested in politics as character and story – Gallo and Sonnier are two prime examples – then it truly could become a ‘safe space’ for filmgoers who hate ‘safe spaces’ and the politically correct, socially crippling wokeism standards that come with them. 

‘Shut In’ premieres Thursday night on Daily Wire’s YouTube channel. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.