Sheltered Image


By Alan Ng | November 13, 2023

In Daniel Jamal Judson’s short film, Sheltered, Tim Johnson plays Caleb, a homeschooled high-schooler doing God’s work serving meals at a soup kitchen. Throughout the tale, we hear Caleb’s thoughts about how God is going to do great things through him…make him a hero, if you will.

During his shift, the young Sheena (Olivia Hawthorne) asks if she and Caleb know one another from school. Caleb says no but becomes instantly enamored by her. Later, she tells Caleb that she’s been accepted into a program at the shelter that will help her find a permanent home. Sheena leaving throws red flags in Caleb’s mind, and in an instant, he begins to unravel a dark conspiracy, and only Caleb can save the day.

“…Sheena asks if she and Caleb know one another…Caleb says no but becomes instantly enamored by her.”

I’m pretty sure Sheltered is not a commentary on the homeschooling system. But it is a commentary on why young people need stable relationships in their lives. Nonetheless, Sheltered falls in the realm of dark satire about how a loner can get too far in his/her head and develop false narratives that interpret interactions with Sheena, a sense of heroics in Caleb, and amass an entire human trafficking conspiracy from an organization wanting to help the downtrodden.

Filmmaker Daniel Jamal Judson sets the right tone with Caleb’s steady decline into madness. The camera is right in Caleb’s face, and his voiceover narration swirls around his obsession with Sheena without ever saying anything about his obsession with Sheena. Judson masterfully takes us down the chilling road toward Caleb’s final downfall.

For screening information, visit the Sheltered official website.

Sheltered (2023)

Directed and Written: Daniel Jamal Judson

Starring: Tim Johnson, Olivia Hawthorne, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Sheltered Image

"…sets the right tone with Caleb's steady decline into madness."

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