Agent Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a US Marshall, investigates the disappearance of a murderess from a mental hospital.
I love how this movie starts. A ship appears out of the mist at sea. It blows its deep horn, and the horn gets taken up by the music score, creating a theme of danger. The captain says there is a storm coming. By now every viewer knows that this is not going to be a comedy. The ship takes two FBI agents to a mental hospital on an island, and those who are familiar with thrillers know that mental hospitals are no places where people get happy, or keep their sanity.
The halls, rooms and people on the island are just dripping with foreboding and danger. The staff of the hospital does not cooperate with them. Agent Daniels gets nightmares and the patients give signs that strange things take place on this island. There might be a plot going on by the doctors to get him to this island in the first place.
From then on this movie develops into an extremely claustrophobic and unnerving experience, so much so that we, the viewers, lose the sense of what is truth, and what is fiction. We just want out. We are given pieces of the puzzle now and then in the conversations and flashbacks as Daniels investigates the dark corridors of the mental hospital. The movie is all about fear and suspense, instead of action.
If you don’t like being messed around with, the movie might well rub you the wrong way, but at least you get to know the feeling of paranoia and isolation that the main character is going through. Shutter Island is the work of a master filmmaker who does not rely on cheap thrills or tricks, but takes lessons from old suspense-masters like Alfred Hitchcock. Then again, I expect nothing less from Scorsese, who is perhaps the finest director working in Hollywood today. Everything about this movie is top quality, from the locations to the acting.
Shutter Island wasn’t so successful at the box office, but it is a must-see. If you feel like seeing a movie about fear, don’t see a typical slasher movie, see this one.