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Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island stars Leonardo Dicaprio and Ben Kingsley

Leonardo Dicaprio and Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island
Leonardo Dicaprio and Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island
Courtesey of Paramount Pictures

With Shutter Island Martin Scorsese has made a great B-movie with A-movie money, and the result is an old-fashioned, gets-in-your-head, creepy thriller. Inspired by movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Preminger's Laura, and the 1947 thriller Crossfire, Scorsese has mounted a gothic horror, similar in tone to the works of Hitchcock, and even Edgar Allen Poe.

Shutter Island Plot
The adaptation of Dennis Lehane's best selling novel takes place in 1954, a time when the Cold War was getting icy, the House Un-American Activities Committee was on the warpath, and patient's rights at mental asylums were hardly a priority.

Just off the shores of Massachusetts on Shutter Island, Federal Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are investigating the disappearance of a psychotic patient at Ashecliffe Hospital, an asylum for the criminally insane. The doctors, nurses, and orderlies are all there to assist, but it soon becomes evident that there's a lot going on that Teddy and Chuck aren't being told.

As it turns out, Teddy has a few secrets of his own. Left bereft by the death of his wife, Teddy is on the hunt for the man he believes is responsible – a man who might just be somewhere on the island. And not just that: Teddy has uncovered some disturbing information about experiments being conducted on Ashecliffe's patients, and seeks to uncover the truth before any of the officials can stop him.

From the very first scene, director Martin Scorsese creates an ominous atmosphere of gloom and fright that permeates the entire film. He brings us into a world where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Fear and paranoia take over as Teddy slides deeper and deeper into Shutter Island's world - and the recesses of his own mind. While it isn't clear exactly what's going on, one thing is certain: Teddy has to uncover the truth and save himself before he too becomes a victim of Shutter Island

Shutter Island Review
Shutter Island doesn't deliver as many shocks and surprises as it could, and fans of psychological thrillers will be able to figure out the plot twists pretty quickly, but it doesn't really detract from one's enjoyment of the film. The performances, cinematography, and production values are all top-notch, and Scorsese fans shouldn't be disappointed. Shutter Island isn't a masterpiece, but it's a great psychological thriller, loaded with visual cues, abstract references, and personal decorations. All in all, a great addition to the master filmmaker's oeuvre.

Rating: 8/10

  • Shutter Island
  • Directed by: Martin Scorsese
  • Written by: Laeta Kalogridis
  • Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams
  • Runtime: 138 mins


  • Peggy Hazelwood, Online Publishing Examiner 5 years ago

    Great review. This movie sounds hide-behind-the-pillow scary.

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