By Sean Harris ’11
Veteran film director Marin Scorsese (“Goodfellas”; “The Departed”) returns to the horror/thriller genre (his last movie in this genre was the 1991 remake “Cape Fear”).
While “Shutter Island” is nowhere near the quality of some of Scorsese’s other films, it is still a very solid movie that boasts more intelligence than the typical Hollywood horror film.
The film begins with Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) investigating the disappearance of Rachael Solando (Emily Mortimer).
Rachel has escaped from Shutter Island, a mental hospital for the criminally insane, run by Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley). The two detectives run into some heavy resistance during their investigation, raising questions about the true motives of the facility.
Teddy is also haunted by the memories of WW2 and his dead wife who was killed in a fire. Teddy believes that the arsonist has ended up on Shutter Island and is out for revenge.
If there is one thing in the film that stands out it is the atmosphere. The facilities of Shutter Island are creepy as are the waking nightmares that Teddy has to face.
Two sequences in the movie are particularly chilling; one involving a visit to Ward C after a storm has knocked out the lights. Ward C is home to the most violent patients and it is dimly lit and disturbing.
The performances in the film are all good but nothing great. DiCaprio gives a good performance but is horribly miscast in a role that should have gone to an older actor.
The real problem with “Shutter Island” is that it is a movie filled with foreshadowing; important hints are scattered throughout the film all leading toward the twist at the end.
This forces the movie to hang on the final act; “Shutter Island” could be blamed for having a slow pace, while in actuality it’s a movie that demands multiple viewings to be fully understood.
The twist is a little predictable, but more complex than the typical Hollywood twist; all the pieces matter. Also, there are enough red herrings in the film to throw off audiences until the final reveal.
3 out of 5 horseshoes