Okay, folks, today we’ve got a doozy of a review for you, so brace yourselves because I’m going to tell you about Shutter Island.
Now, Shutter Island was a really awesome idea, make no mistake–watching the trailer suggested nothing so much as Silent Hill as directed by Martin Freaking Scorsese himself. And while this concept is sufficient to give any geek worth his or her salt a case of the swooning vapors, it wasn’t quite what we got.
Shutter Island joins U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels, who’s just been dispatched to Shutter Island, floating off the coast of Boston and home to a gigantic, sprawling insane asylum. Yes, we’re basically sending Leo DiCaprio to a giant floating Arkham Asylum off the coast of Massachusetts, but sadly, this sounds more awesome than it actually is.
Anyway, once Teddy and his new partner Chuck arrive on the island, to begin an investigation into a missing patient, a whole lot of things start to make themselves clear. One, there’s a whole lot more going on on this island than anyone wants to admit. Two, we’re going to get a good look at them all before we’re done. And three, Boston is apparently susceptible to hurricanes.
One of those bizarre hurricanes (which should be about a one in a million event, if I remember right) socks in the island and thus leaves us with the perfect setup for a suspense thriller movie–a dark and stormy night on Looney Bin Island.
Admittedly, Shutter Island will not be quite as awesome as the trailers suggested. If a movie actually WERE that awesome we’d probably need a cigarette and a change of pants after the credits rolled. But anyway–Shutter Island is still an entertaining if a bit long title.
There’s a lot of people who say this sticks too close to convention, that it’s just an A-list director slumming it with a B-list movie, but actually, I welcome this. We’ve been watching tropes get subverted left, right and center. And where we haven’t been watching people strike out in lunatic directions we’ve been watching tripe so thoroughly warmed over that it carries the same titles as movies made ten, even twenty plus years prior. If it’s not new, it’s a remake / reboot / re-whatever the hell you want to call it.
It’s therefore interesting to see a name like Scorsese take all the basic conventions (right down to that mythic “dark and stormy night” that was old and tired even when Snoopy was writing with it on top of his doghouse) and make something with it. This is your grandmother’s recipe for horror, folks–this is what horror movies were like thirty, even forty or more years ago back before franchises and undead juggernauts and cheerleader-choppers and the gore-for-gore’s-sake school got in.
Movies like Shutter Island were part of why everyone was freaked out by Night of the Living Dead, because that was NOTHING like this.
But like every old recipe, it loses a little something. This is not what you’re used to, folks. This is something so old and so basic that we haven’t seen it in a long time. Thus, it actually looks unique by modern standards. There’s not a lot of blood in here–some, but not much. There’s all sorts of twists and turns and more than a few mind games and all of it seems a bit familiar.
This doesn’t change the fact that Shutter Island is entertaining. That movie ran almost two and a half hours and I scarcely noticed. When something like that happens, I browbeat the Screenhead Ten Scale into handing out a nine out of ten. It wasn’t the greatest movie I’ve ever seen–no wild exhilaration–but it’s a technically proficient film that hits all the right notes. Just not all the notes I prefer.