Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment
Any time the name Martin Scorsese gets thrown around in the horror genre, we are all ears. Even if his involvement is just on the fringe of our beloved genre, we want to know everything. Thankfully his latest film, Shutter Island, is well within our realm, and that tickles us beyond words. So how did the maestro fare on the dark side of filmmaking? We’ll get to that in a second; first a quick plot crunch.
The year is 1954, and two U.S. Marshalls, Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (Ruffalo), are on their way via boat to a secluded New England island that is home to an asylum for the criminally insane. Talk about having us at hello. Anyway, upon their arrival they are taken to meet the facility’s chief doctor (Kingsley) to discuss the disappearance of a female patient who apparently has vanished into thin air. A series of twists and turns follow, and soon our heroes end up fighting for not only their lives but even for their very existences!
That’s all we’re going to talk about for now because any mention of the film’s proceedings could end up spoiling the experience for you. The twists, of which there are several, aren’t really all that hard to figure out, and once you do, Shutter Island ends up losing just about all of its steam. But up to that point there is plenty to appreciate thanks to an incredibly taut first two acts.
There were times while watching when I said to myself, “This could very well be one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen!” Scorsese’s trademark shot composition is as spot on as ever, and tonally he brings a ton of atmosphere that’s riddled with a sort of stifling yet ghastly beauty in nearly every scene. And then there’s the tension. Nobody builds it better, and there are moments here where you’ll be sitting completely white-knuckled in your seat. There are reasons that this man is referred to as a master of his craft, and they’re clearly on display here. No doubt, there are glimpses of true genius strewn throughout the film, but by the time the end credits roll, the rug will have been pulled out from under the viewer. It’s one of those “Wow, we came all this way just for that?” type moments.
If you have the tech, Blu-ray is the only way to go in terms of which package to invest in. Seriously? This is about as good as Blu-ray gets in terms of picture and sound quality. If you thought the movie was immersive in theatres, brother, you ain’t seen or heard nothing yet! On Blu-ray the setting comes to life as the perfect blend of image and sound. You’ll feel as if you’re walking those long dark and damp hallways and chasms with our players. Turn out the lights, turn up the sound, and enjoy!
Not as enjoyable of an experience is provided by the film’s supplemental materials as there are only two short featurettes. The first, Behind the Shutters, clocks in at just over eighteen minutes and is comprised of all your basic behind-the-scenes stuff; and the second, Into the Lighthouse, is a twenty-one-minute look at what real life is like inside of an asylum, both fact-based and fictitious. Not bad but not especially noteworthy either. Add on a few trailers, and we have your usual skimpy release from a studio that is capable of doing so much more.
Despite its shortcomings Shutter Island is still miles better than the usual stuff we are spoon-fed nowadays. Welcome to the world of horror, Marty … please stay a while and get comfortable.
4 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5