Shutter Island
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
Review by Brian M. Sammons

This is the latest movie from Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors to ever put images on film. That alone should be enough of a reason for everyone to see this movie, but if you want more than that, then I can do that. This is also Scorsese’s latest team up with his newest, favorite actor (sorry Bobbie D., I guess you’re too old for Martin these days), Leonardo DiCaprio. While I initially dismissed Leo as a pretty boy getting by on his dreamboat status, and I’m not afraid to admit that I hated Titantic, I have come to learn over the years that he can really act his ass off. So when a director this good gets together with an actor this talented, very good things usually come from it.

However since this a site all about horror goodies, is it safe to assume that this is a horror movie? Well no, it’s not really, but it is a twisty turvy thriller filled with mystery, murder, insanity, and some great nightmarish imagery. If you like being creeped out, constantly guessing what’s going on, and just love great movies, then you’ll enjoy this film no matter what section of the video store you find this flick in. Ha, video stores…those were the days. But I am not here to wax all nostalgic, so let’s begin our visit to Shutter Island.

Leonardo plays a U.S. Marshal named Teddy who goes to an incredibly eerie island sanitarium with his partner, played by Mark Ruffalo. The pair is there to investigate the escape of a criminally insane patient who all but vanished mysteriously out of her cell one night. Set just some time after World War 2, Teddy is a vet with a horrible past and has got his share of haunts rattling around in his skull. Add to that some personal tragedy, plenty of very creepy environments, and having to interview many murderous maniacs, and is it any wonder that Teddy begins seeing things.

Question is, is what he’s seeing real or imagined?

Another good question would be this; is everyone at Shutter Island hiding something from him or worst yet, out to get him? From the head psychologist, played to uncanny perfection by Ben Kingsley, to the old German doctor who just might be a Nazi in hiding, played by the always wonderful Max von Sydow, to Ted (Silence Of The Lambs) Levine as the warden of the prison, everyone seems to have secrets. The new Freddy Kruger, Jackie Earle Haley, also pops up in a memorable cameo as a scar faced inmate who just might be the man responsible for…well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say that the twisting, turning story in this movie is a continual guessing game and even if you can puzzle out the final “a-ha” moment before the end as I did (yay for me, I am so smart) it still doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of watching an amazing collection of great actors doing their thing. And again, this is Martin freaking Scorsese directing this film, the man doesn’t make bad movies. Ok, I wasn’t too keen on The Aviator, but still…

Now let’s talk about the DVD, in a word; it SUCKS! It is the epitome of a bare bones disc and sorry Paramount, but I call bullshit on that. Now the Blu-ray has some special features. Not many, but some. But what, could they just not squeeze them onto the DVD? No, this is yet another movie company giving DVD owners the blatant middle finger and I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Chances are if you own a BD player and you want this movie, you’ll buy it on BD, so does Paramount actually think they’ll force a DVD owner into converting to the new format just because their DVD of Shutter Island is missing two behind the scenes docs? That’s just silly, but it’s the only reason I can think of why they, and sadly plenty of other studios these days, would have for not including the extras on the DVD when there is clearly room. What, does leaving the laser that burns the info into the discs on for an extra ten seconds to transfer the extras REALLY cost that much? How many pennies, if any at all, is Paramount saving by screwing over a large percentage of home video market? This is a practice that pisses me off whenever I see it and yes, I have a Blue-ray player, but I still think it’s scummy and I’ll rail against it every time.

So, did I like the movie? Yes, I really did. Do I recommend buying the DVD? No, I really cannot. If Paramount is going to treat you like crap, the least you can do is not give them money for doing so. If you already own a Blu-ray player then go ahead and pick up this flick, I think you’ll like it, But for God’s sake, don’t switch up from DVD to BD just because of this, or any disc. Not that I think you would, I’m just saying.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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