Especially in its middle-section, involving a search through a forbidden part of a mental ward and a rendezvous at a lighthouse, Shutter Island
delivers the pulp excitement of digging too deep, crossing the point of no return in a dark mystery. Adapting Dennis Lehane's novel into a homage of 1940s evoke-more-than-you-show thrillers, Martin Scorsese delivers an above-average Hollywood product. It's to Shutter Island
's detriment that it also feels confined by that label. Creating chills as US marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is sent to a Massachusetts island mental asylum to investigate a patient's disappearance, Scorsese's frights don't merge with the personalized insight of his 1970s, ’80s and ’90s films--exactly what would allow Shutter Island
to cut to the bone. The island's rain storms and treacherous rocks and the asylum's dim cavern hallways are an amplification of Teddy's own mental state: the horrors on Shutter Island taking second place to the horrors in his head. In his other genre thriller, 1991's Cape Fear
, Scorsese more potently made use of a physical metaphor to express inner turmoil, where the intrusion of a stalker/rapist reflected a family tearing itself apart. Teddy's confusion is in focus, but by keeping his grief out of the picture for too long, it's one of Scorsese's thinnest works. While delivering efficient thrills and technical wizardry, Shutter
Island is mainly about working out plot contraptions.