I've been waiting for a really good mental asylum movie for a fair while now ... an odd statement to make, perhaps, but it's true nonetheless. Specifically a good horror movie set in a mental asylum, and with Shutter Island I've pretty much got it. Naturally, as what happened with Silence of the Lambs, Shutter Island is labelled a "psychological thriller" - which it is - but it's also a gothic-like horror. Sure, the horror elements may be more subtle than that of Lambs, but the same theory applies.
Scorsese has crafted a genuinely creepy flick, which manages to convince you as the viewer that maybe you're a little bit insane too. It drip-feeds paranoia into your mind slowly but surely, leaving hints and misdirections to the truth throughout. Who do you trust? Who's telling the truth? What's going on? Not as mind-bending as an episode of Lost (fortunately), Shutter Island weaves an assured B-Movie schtick with an A-Movie production. This isn't an insult, far from it, some of the best movies are B-Movies - and Scorsese has given us a film which could have easily been a whole lot less in the hands of a lesser filmmaker.
The chills come slowly, creeping up your spine throughout, but the film never descends into the "BOO!" jolts that have become so commonplace. Indeed, Scorsese has made a far more classical chiller, relying on a growing sense of dread and paranoia to unsettle his audience.
It's also a beautifully shot flick, with typically slick Scorsese film editing, and another stand-out performance from Scorsese's modern muse DiCaprio, who was clearly seeking to explore new areas with his directorial master, and he has succeeded in spades.
While perhaps a tad overlong, Shutter Island isn't so much about the intricacies or basics of the plot, but rather how you arrive at them - not so much the story, but the telling. It's the sort of film that demands, and will reward with, a second or even third viewing. Intriguing, involving, at times even mentally taxing, visually imposing and nothing short of chilling ... it'll leave you thinking about it after it has finished, that's for sure.