Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Shutter Island


It’s going to be hard to write very much about this. I don’t think it’s any secret that the ending is quite a large surprise, and I won’t say anything more about it than that it is a surprise. But I got the surprise by reading the book, both when it was new and a few months ago to refresh my memory. And while I was watching I was struck that, subjectively, there are two movies here. Sort of like the difference between going to see Psycho knowing nothing about the movie, and going in knowing that Janet Leigh was going to be butchered halfway through and that Norman Bates’ mother was dead and pickled … but even worse. Nothing is what it seems, but if you know what is really going on you scrutinize each scene for honesty to the hidden premise, and keep saying “Aha!”, yes, that conforms to what the ending will be. Whereas if you don’t know the secret, you will be aware only of the masterful building of tension. In either case, you’re going to be seeing a top-notch thriller. Scorsese said he wanted to make a Gothic movie, and he sure has. The creepiness and larger-than-life, almost operatic menace is there from the very first scenes, on a boat moving through fog to a mysterious and ominous island. And it just builds from there.