Shutter Island Review
It goes without saying then, that if you haven’t seen the movie, it might be wise to stop reading this… that is, if you plan on seeing the movie in the first place. If not, by all means, keep reading. There’s your SPOILER alert (I’ve always wanted to give a spoiler warning!)
I don’t want to talk about the movie in too much detail, but it did have a lot going for it. It had that creepy, psychological vibe and Shutter Island did an admirable job of keeping that feeling all the way through. The movie did use a couple of cliches (the old island-with-a-storm-that-prevents-the-ferry-from-returning trick) and I thought it ran a little too long (over two hours). But something else I really liked about the movie might seem trivial: the overly dramatic music. At first it almost seemed comical, but it was appropriate, nonetheless, and the music kept a feeling of tension throughout.
What I really want to write about is the ending. The ending was in a way, another cliche. It was, I don’t want to say obvious, but it kind of felt like the only ending that could have worked: He’s crazy. And for that reason, part of me predicted it. Still, the ending is in no ways disappointing because Shutter Island used the twist ending, without abusing it.
See, twist storytelling and I have a love-hate relationship. Overall, there’s nothing I love more than a twist ending. Seriously, twists can be so powerful and they’re the reason The Twilight Zone is one of my favorite shows of all time. But there’s a danger to twist endings, as well. A poorly executed twist can cause you to do nothing more than mutter “Ohhhh.” Then future viewings make you look for the places where the twist does and doesn’t work and detract from the characters and plot.
But where Shutter Island succeeds is in its ability to provide the audience with a twist without falling into any of those traps. If the movie had ended in the lighthouse with the reveal, I would have been so disappointed. However, Shutter Island quickly continued, pulling together all it had without relying on the twist alone. The movie wasn’t just about the reveal, but it actually allowed for some analysis from the audience.
The ending of Shutter Island reminds me a lot of an episode of Night Gallery. If you don’t know what Night Gallery is, that might not be such a bad thing. It really wasn’t the greatest show. Night Gallery can be described as a successor to The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling helped create it and acted as narrator. However, he didn’t have as much creative influence and the show suffered greatly as a result.
Anyway, there’s an episode from the second season called “The Diary.” Actually, it’s part one of four mini-episodes. Night Gallery was infamous for cramming as many stories as possible into their hour time slot. The short two-minute comedy bits are some of the worst things ever produced for television. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, watch “A Matter of Semantics” - it’s the clip that airs after “The Diary.”
“The Diary” was written by Serling and I highly recommend it - it’s one of the better episodes featured on Night Gallery. If you can look passed the 1970’s vibe and the main actresses’ mustache (yes, I know - it’s distracting and disturbing), I think you’ll enjoy the episode… or at least the last couple of minutes.
When I saw the ending in Shutter Island, my mind immediately jumped to this episode. I actually prefer the delivery of the twist in “The Diary” as opposed to the twist in Shutter Island. It’s more subtle and less explained in “The Diary.”
Feel free to watch “The Diary” below: hope you enjoy it! Feel free to comment if you’ve seen Shutter Island (or “The Diary”). Let me know your thoughts.