Essjayar.Com Rotating Header Image

Shutter Island Review

Shutter Island is the new movie from Martin Scorcese, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Ben Kingsley.

I went in to watch this expecting a horror movie set in an asylum, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was much more.

In order to keep this quick review spoiler free I will refrain from explaining the plot too much, since it twists and turns.

Set within the grounds of the Ashecliffe Mental Hospital on Shutter Island in the 1950’s Di Caprio plays Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall sent to investigate a missing prisoner. Since everyone on the island is a violent (and insane) criminal, finding her is priority.

The movie jumps from locked-room mystery to questioning the hidden motives of the doctors and staff, with Teddy himself also questioning his sanity. The pace moves from a slow burn to a frenzied final half hour, and although the ending can be seen coming from a mile off it is still genuinely moving with a great payoff.

The film is atmospheric, with the remote island lashed by storms, and creepy patients/prisoners locked in cells in a high security ward set within a civil war era fort. There are flashbacks to Teddy’s experiences liberating Dachau in WW2, and although this is more a thriller than a horror, there are some jump out of your seat moments. What you first think is a straight missing person / escaped convict hunt turns into a personal vendetta for Daniels, and then moves into more cerebral territory.

Although set some 50 years in the past, it is not a period piece, though there are nods to the medical practices of the time and mentions of the recent war. This is essentially a story wound around Daniels, who has much more of a part to play than he at first realises.

This is a film it’s best to go into blind. Thankfully the trailer doesn’t reveal any of the plot.

Di Caprio has worked before with Scorcese, and the partnership works well. Throw in Sir Ben Kingsley who for once doesn’t overract too much, mix in a little Max Von Sydow, and you have a recipe for a great film.

8.5 / 10 – I’m glad Scorcese did this and not M. Knight Shyamalan!