Movie Review-Shutter Island

Hi Folks,

So it’s thriller Thursday and we’re doing another pretty recent movie. This one’s an oddity for the thriller camp since there is absolutely no serial killing whatsoever in this week’s entry. We here at Fright Dyke are proud to present the twisty, turny and delightfully trippy:




Shutter Island



Fast Facts



Made in 2010 and directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is based off of the novel by Dennis Lehane, who has previously been responsible for such gems as Mystic River  and Gone Baby Gone (which sans Affleck involvement could have been a really good movie)

The story centers around Teddy Daniels (or does it?) a U.S. Marshal (or is he?) investigating (or is he?) a disappearance (or is it?) at a mental institution for the criminally insane (or is it?) called Shutter Island. (is that it’s real name?) The conditions are strange (or are they?) and there’s a major ulterior motive at play (or is there?) which leads him and us to seriously question everything he’s being told. (or do we?)



That stops right now.



I forgive you for Titanic

Leonardo Dicaprio- Plays Teddy Daniels our hero and as always (since he started getting grown up roles) does a wonderful job. I used to hate him, I really did but talent conquers all.

Yeah no I still kinda hate you

Mark Ruffalo- Plays Chuck Aule, he’s just as wooden as usual though he does pick up a bit at the end, so I guess you could argue wooden was part of the character.

Can you say 'authoritative facial hair'?

Ben Kingsley- Plays Dr. Cawley, the head of Shutter Island and does, as always a really great job. Seriously why is it so hard for this guy to find work?


For those of you who found this via google image search: no this isn't the one where she has sex with Chloe Sevigny...We're all disappointed get over it

Michelle Williams- Plays Dolores, Teddy’s dead wife, she’s the cornerstone for some of the trippier sequences in the film. Also she’s creepy and comforting both at the same time and that’s just kind of wrong.

Seriously he looks like Deniro and Chris Meloni had a kid right? I'm not the only one who's seeing this?

Elias Koteas_-Plays Andrew Laeddis, the ulterior motive. He only has one scene but he sure makes the most of it.

Seriously he could have at least worn the mask

Jackie Earle Haley- Plays Noyce, an inmate at Shutter Island with some disturbing news for Teddy. Again he’s a one scene wonder; the only thing bothering me about his performance is that Mr. Haley now does the Rorschach voice for every character he plays regardless of appropriateness.



Ok let’s brake for a second. I am going to give this the full breakdown which means that I’m going to give away the twist, because the ending is extremely important to the overall efficacy of the movie.

Welcome to the land of duh

So let’s do this; I’m going to give this an 8 out of 10 so if you haven’t seen it yet and for some bizarre reason you wanted to know what I thought first; there you go you have my blessing go rent the damn thing.


They gone?

For the last time you've been talking to yourself since June

So anyway!


Shutter Island is an intense mystery more than anything else and while that normally wouldn’t be enough to land a movie on this website there are a lot of dark themes and nazi experiments (allegedly), conspiracy (allegedly), and all kinds of fucked up shit going on (fact).

Though they're not really helping their own case here are they?

Shutter Island is an institution for the criminally insane. I have openly admitted that I like psych ward movies and period pieces (this one’s early 50’s) are even better. Unfortunately for the real world but fortunately for us; a psych ward was about as close as you could get to hell while still breathing until very recently. Teddy’s assertions that weird experimentation and rampant abuse are going on frankly aren’t that big a leap from reality for this time.

Though they didn't really bother with the cover up

Teddy and his partner Chuck come to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of an escaped inmate; Rachel Solando who appears to have “vanished straight through the walls” of her padded cell.

Only in New England

However we soon find out that Teddy is here; far more interested in another inmate. Andrew Laeddis is the man he believes burned down his apartment building years prior, killing his wife Dolores as a result.


What follows is some really great storytelling, the plot is intricate and well fleshed out which is difficult considering how many components are at play here and that the film is not obscenely long (a scant 2 hours and 20 minutes, if you sat through IT this thing is fine)


There are standout sequences all over this thing but we’re going to focus on three because I’m a slave to the formula.


1.Teddy’s Dreams

This is more of a set of sequences but they’re all good. Teddy suffers from migraines and spends a lot of the film sleeping them off with some assistance from Dr. Cawley and his magical ‘knock you the fuck out’ pills.

When he sleeps he sees and talks to Dolores; these sequences are at once frightening and heartbreaking. The pain he feels at her loss is palpable but the tension comes right back when she does things like flow away like liquid or suddenly and inexplicably bursts into flames.

Yeah I feel like there's an 'osis' for this

2. Ward C

Ward C is where the violent inmates are kept; following a storm Teddy and Chuck use the bedlam of the ensuing clean up to search the place for clues.

Whoah I just had an Eastern State flashback


There is a clever if not wholly original scene shift here. Everything we have seen thus far on Shutter Island has looked very much like a hospital. Ward C looks like a dungeon, replete with ancient looking brick walls, water dripping on every surface , labyrinthine structure and never fully explained chains hanging from the walls and  ceiling.

Because clearly this place is chock full of clues

This is the most frightening sequence in the film. Teddy and Chuck get separated and Teddy is running around this hell hole with a lot of suddenly unrestrained, violent psychos. We get a few jump scares from the more ‘docile’ ones and the Teddy grappling with an NBA sized escapee who’s trying to throttle him. It’s creepy, fast paced and occasionally exploitatively jumpy, but it’s a lot of fun.


3. The big reveal

No this is the part where we stop blowing smoke up the audience's ass

Now I’ve heard a lot of people say that they saw this coming and that’s fair. It’s gotten rather difficult to put one over on an audience following the advent of M. Night and Jigsaw. I had read the book already so I have no informed opinion on how well the deception was pulled off.


Ok so after Teddy goes rogue, becomes paranoid and just generally decides he’s going to fuck up everybody’s shit he attempts to rescue Chuck because he’s convinced that the poor guy is being lobotomized in the lighthouse (read that back to yourself and the ending just makes a lot more sense.)

If only Jack Nicholson had had a friend like him

Anyway when he gets there we learn that this has all in fact been: an elaborate and extremely weird experiment.


Teddy is an inmate.

You're shitting me right?

He has been given the run of the place to see if allowing to act out his delusional fantasy will jolt him back to sanity.


He’s also really Andrew Laeddis, who killed his own wife, who was really named Rachel Solando because he came home to discover that she’d drowned their three children during a psychotic episode.


Yeah; that’ll ruin your day.

Excedrin headache number 57

Chuck is his doctor, his migraines are a symptom of withdrawal from his psychotropic drugs and if the little play doesn’t work they are in fact actually going to lobotomize him because he’s been beating the crap out of the other patients and the staff.


Ouch…there’s some irony for ya.


This scene is incredibly well done; whether you saw it coming or not, plus we get some nice gore effects from Teddy ‘shooting’ Dr. Cawley. Dolores /Rachel begging Teddy/Andrew not to believe them is frighteningly desperate and Teddy finally believing them is beyond throat catching.


Now that is not the end. This movie made a decision to differ from the book in a very important way and one which I really like. They do all of this with one really excellent line of dialogue.


In the book Teddy regresses and the story ends with him being led off to surgery. His last line is “We’ve got to get off this rock Chuck.” Signifying his fantasy life has taken over again.


He says that in the movie too but follows it up with something brilliant.


“Which would be worse? To live as a monster? Or to die a good man?”



The ambiguity cannon fired.

It looks like this...more or less

This is a great choice. Now we’re left wondering. Did he actually regress? Did the experiment fail? Or did it succeed and he’s choosing to be lobotomized rather than live with what he is and what he’s done?




Final Thoughts


Shutter Island is a very well done mystery/thriller with some truly horrific themes. There’s abuse, lobotomies, experimentation, crazy ass inmates on the loose and a compelling, twisting plot to wrap the whole thing up in a bundle of ‘What the fuck?’.

Who are we kidding? This thing is drowning in 'what the fuck'.

All in all (again) 8 out of 10



Or is it?


For's over


Your tripped up Screamstress,

~Fright Dyke


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