Shutter Island redefines thrillers

, based on the eponymous 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane, is one of the best real thrillers to come around in a while. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, a seeming favorite of director Martin Scorsese. The film follows DiCaprio’s character, Teddy Daniels, as he investigates a disappearance in a prison/mental health hospital.

Saying is of the thriller genre, it is not to be confused with horror/thriller or action/thriller, which are very popular these days. Unlike most movies in the box office lately, contains hardly any violence or even action. That is not to say it is a tame movie, but instead it finds ways to excite the audience without resorting to those tried and tired methods. This is really just a plain old thriller.

does not seem wholly original at first. Until about half way through the movie, it comes across as a rehash of several others. However, as the movie progresses and “the truth” comes out, it becomes more and more entertaining and original. Some might claim that they knew how the movie would end. But on the contrary, it makes the audience question so much and so many things, that all possibilities are seriously considered at one point or another.

The movie is about seemingly crazy people, which Scorsese portrays very well. He uses some cinematic tricks to keep the audience just a little off-kilter. At times, the image is very warm and inviting, but switches between shots and becomes very cool. Over the course of a conversation, what is in the room and facial features become shrouded in shadow and then are illuminated again, much like the experience of DiCaprio’s character throughout the film.

The film always keeps the audience confused. What is really reality is always in flux and there is never much more evidence than hearsay to back up any claim. Believing who or what for certain is impossible without just picking a side and refuting all else.

This is why this is such a good movie. The progress of the story is revealed several times and it is always something completely different. The film builds a reality and then gives all the necessary evidence to convince otherwise, yet it just seems too implausible. The finale, however, leaves little to question.

Shutter Island is well-written, which has more than a little to do with being a successful novel previously. By the end, it is possible to think back and see the clues and hints. The ending is fairly definite, purposefully and heavily providing evidence to support one claim, which goes against other claims that audience wants to believe.

The film does not hide behind old tricks to entertain. It presents a story and develops it. Furthermore, that story keeps the audience intrigued by involving the audience itself. Between the Red Scare in the movie and the threat of terrorism now, the fantastic becomes plausible both in the movie and to the audience.

gives an unsteady closure that would seem very tied-together and neatly done in another time. The film is simple and well done, a rare combination.