Back in 1980, critics’ darling Stanley Kubrick delighted Stephen King fans (if not King, himself) by choosing to film The Shining. Kubrick hadn’t ventured into horror before, but the resulting movie is now considered a classic of the genre. Somehow I doubt that, 30 years from now, film historians will be as kind to acclaimed director Martin Scorsese’s foray into horror, Shutter Island.
This is not a bad movie, just a lethargic one. As you might expect from Scorsese, it looks gorgeous, it has a grade-A calibre cast, and no production value has been spared. But its twist is nothing new, its psychological “insights” are cliched and, well, put it this way: If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, there’s nothing here to surprise you. Oh, and The Wizard of Oz was scarier.
This is all a shame because the trappings of something fun are all here: a spooky island with a menacing mental hospital; a vicious storm that knocks out the power; hospital staff members who are as creepy as the inmates; hints at horrible doings in the past and horrible doings to come.
But Scorsese seems to coast through all of it. He has no fun with the material, and so neither do we. I used to criticize Scorsese for rarely venturing out of his comfort zone, which is the gangster picture. But after this misfired attempt at horror, maybe gangsterville is where he should stay. Grade: B-
Director: Martin Scorsese Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, Max Von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson Release: 2010
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