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Shutter Island (2010)

Directed by:

Martin Scorsese

Rating: 9/10

Back when all the Shutter Island buzz started, my horror movie friend and I were pretty excited about the idea of Martin Scorsese doing a horror movie, but we were also skeptical. Sure, the trailers were creepy, but it seemed a bit misleading. Turns out we were right, and even with some haunting images and a couple of seat jumper moments, it’s more psychological drama with a healthy dose of authentic 50s detective drama. This is not in any way a flaw, however, and I’m sure this film is well on its way to being a part of the Scorsese’s canon.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Williams (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) arrive on the infamous Shutter Island, home to the criminally insane, in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Once there, however, they realize that not everything is as it is on the surface, and Teddy, already searching for his own answers, begins to question reality and finds himself caught in an ever-twisting mystery.

From the time we meet Teddy and Chuck on the ferry, we are sucked into the surreal world of the island that is their destination, and even if you figure out what’s going on—or what MIGHT be going on—it doesn’t really matter. You should probably still see it again just in case. Fortunately, the re-watch isn’t really a problem, because everything about this film is re-watchable, from the cinematography to the stellar performances from leads and supporters alike. I mean, Scorsese always manages to pull the best out of DiCaprio, so no surprises there, but let’s face it—Ben Kingsley is just always scary (even as Gandhi just a bit), and as the doc in charge, Dr. Cawley, he exudes an energy that seems just as cuckoo as some of his patients. Also somewhat surprisingly eerie is Michelle Williams as Teddy’s flashback wife Dolores. The film’s real strength, though, is in its tone and presentation. Some of the most memorable moments have an almost “Twin Peaks”/Lynch-ian feel, without quite as much of the abstract. With a puzzle-like pace, everything begins to fit together, only to be torn apart again when we realize the pieces don’t quite fit together after all. No one ever seems to be a reliable source of information, so we’re left constantly on edge, constantly trying to decipher the clues and come to a conclusion, all while milling about amidst mental patients, storms, government conspiracies, and the isolation of an island. This is a real movie lover’s movie.

It's Got: Perfect casting, creepy flashbacks, Kingsley scariness

It Needs: Not to be sold as horror, repeat viewings, audiences to pay attention to details

Alternatives:

Memento, Secret Window, The Departed

Summary

Another Scorsese classic, it’s not the horror film it was touted as, but that’s OK, because it’s just plain good.

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