Frequent collaborators Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio have delivered an impressive melange of masterpieces. From Boston-set crime drama The Departed to real-life biography The Aviator, their varied body of works finds unity in reverberating realism and powerful performances.
The team-up greets excitement as they take on Dennis Lehane’s neo-noir Shutter Island. The titular remote enclave seats the hospital for the criminally insane, where US Marshals Teddy Daniels (Dicaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) investigate the disappearance of a patient.
They soon uncover a more sinister conspiracy at work as covert experiments take place at the ominous lighthouse. As with asylum-set thrillers, the threat of lobotomies or the mere prevalence of surgical contraptions never fail to unease. Secret wards reinforce claustrophobia on an isolated island, made ominous by the cold and grey of the aged fort.
Horror draws an intimate connection to the past of Teddy Daniels, who seems to struggle under the weight of his past. The death of his wife is as intriguing as it is, evocative. His interspersing war-time visions contribute anxiety, multiplying clues shroud the mystery in thickened fog. Tension fills the air as haunting imagery contorts reality.
Unrestrained in its bleak darkness, Shutter Island surrounds its residents with a lasting sense of paranoia. All of which pays off in its steady pace towards a powerful end, harrowing in a single line.