Legendary director Martin Scorsese’s first movie since 2006’s The Departed is Shutter Island. This isn’t his usual affair of gangland street crime but that doesn’t stop him trying his hand at another genre in the film making landscape. Instead Shutter Island is a psychological mystery thriller full to the brim with atmosphere.
Its 1932 and Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall called in to investigate state run mental institution Ashecliffe hospital for the criminally insane. The film opens with Teddy on board a rickety ferry taking him across the foggy waters to the island where Ashecliffe awaits. With his new partner (Mark Ruffalo) at his side the pair embark in their investigation.
An inmate by the name of Rachel Solando has gone missing from her cell. The murderess has left no evident clues to her whereabouts, she is delusional after drowning her three children whom she still believes to be alive. Not everything is as it seems though as those running the institution seem to have something to hide.
Teddy is sceptical of the doctors running Ashecliffe instead accusing them directly of hiding information that would help the US Marshalls in their investigation. He suspects that the doctors are instead conducting experiments on their patients. Teddy isn’t without his own mental issues though as he tries to repress the memories of his late wife (Michelle Williams). She warns him in his dreams to stop digging, something which Daniels ignores as he intends to get to the bottom of the conspiracy he has landed himself in.
From the first shot to the final frame Scorsese has placed all his signature trademarks to make Shutter Island a haunting psychological thriller. Shutter island is a throwback to old time thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo or Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining. With that Scorsese provides a movie that captures sensation of a nightmare with long eriee corridors, dim lighting and a feeling of helplessness as Daniels is trapped within Ashecliffe hospital. The sound design is also fantastic hitting the mood of the movie in the chest aiming to give the viewer shivers while watching only adding to the overall atmosphere.
While this isn’t Martin Scorsese’s best work – but then when you have so many classic movies in your filmography does it really matter? – It’s clear he has had a lot of fun with this one. Fans of the psychological thriller genre will be expecting a twist but in this case the final third could almost derail the entire runtime up until that point. Most audience members will likely be left scratching their heads and feeling a little disappointed with the ending which is truly the only flaw within Shutter Island. Despite this though Shutter Island is dark, disturbing, and absolutely compelling and compulsive cinema.