Leonardo DiCaprio stars "Shutter Island," a psychological thriller by director Martin Scorsese.
"Shutter Island" has been marketed as scary thriller, but watching it is a harrowing, often painful experience. It's a very serious drama.
DiCaprio is brilliant and Scorsese is masterful, but the story is set in a prison hospital for the criminally insane where a federal marshal is haunted by bad dreams and terrible memories of traumatic experiences in his own life.
The year is 1954. Dicaprio is Teddy Daniels, a federal marshal who with Mark Ruffalo as his partner Chuck is on Shutter Island to investigate the escape of an inmate.
"Gentlemen, welcome to Shutter Island," the officer in charge tells them after they get off the ferry that has landed them there. "We take only the most dangerous, damaged patients, ones no other hospital can manage."
Ben Kinsley is the head doctor who's not as helpful as the marshals would like. "We don't know how she got out of her room," the doctor tells them. "It's as if she evaporated straight through the walls."
Later, Teddy tells his partner: "We haven't heard the truth once yet. But no one will talk. It's like they're scared of something."
Teddy himself is scared of something, namely the terrible dreams and awful memories that afflict him on this island. He's a World War II veteran who's seen the horrors of a Nazi death camp. Plus, his late wife, who appears only in flashbacks and dreams, died a horrible death two years earlier.
Very few clips from the film have been released for television, perhaps because the distributor wants people to think that "Shutter Island" is just a well done scary movie. But though its style may remind you of Hitchcock, "Shutter Island goes deeper.
It's an exploration of madness caused by murderous trauma. For example, one female character has drowned her three children but can't admit to herself that they are dead.
So, as well done as this film is, if you're not in the mood for gloom and doom and unrelenting darkness, think twice about seeing the "Shutter Island."