Lockhart, a somewhat over-worked executive (Dane DeHaan) is given the task to travel to Switzerland to locate an illusive CEO of the company he works for, which is facing financial problems. However on arrival at a hospital where the wealthy go for ‘the cure’ Lockhart begins to suspect something dark and sinister is afoot.
It’s not hard to gleam Shutter Island vibes from this, what with the lead’s more than passing resemblance to a somewhat younger Leonardo DiCaprio and a setting of a creepy, isolated sanatorium with stories of a violent history. Add to this a lead doctor (Jason Isaacs) who may or may not be up to no good, and I was half expecting Lockhart’s dead wife to turn up. Gore Verbinski however is a good enough director to take such inspiration and lavish it with his own distinct style, albeit with a reliance on animal imagery he used so well in the Ring remake (yup, Deers and Cows are officially symbols of impending doom). Add to this often breath-taking cinematography and this is one eye-catching movie.
When the final twist reveals itself, it’s so blatantly sign-posted that it proves not all that surprising … but paves the way for a decidedly old-school, Hammer-horror inspired climax that works well. However I was left questioning a few things that are not explained.
Dane DeHaan may not be the most interesting leading man but his look and performance suit the eerie, freaky mood. It’s a tad over-long with a first act that drags and some of the more freaky moments confuse (the steam baths scene, the eels). However it nails the setting and has an intriguing mystery, making this still worth your time.
With a director who has worked with some of the greatest actors of our time, Martin Scorsese’s on-going partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio seems a marriage made in heaven, most brilliantly realised in The Aviator. This latest offering has the director tackling a more Hitchcockian thriller with elements of Stephen King meets David Lynch, and the result?
DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal called to a psychiatric hospital on a remote island in the 1950s. A female patient has vanished in mysterious circumstances, and he and his partner (Zodiac’s Mark Ruffalo) must figure out what has gone on while at the same time mix with a group of doctors and psychiatrists – headed by Ben Kingsley on brilliant form. But DiCaprio has his own agenda, as he believes the man responsible for his wife’s murder some years previous is housed on the island. Yet as this is Scorsese, an at first simple story boasts something all the more intriguing and to be honest, wierd as we are subjected to disturbing flashbacks of German concentration camps, freaky hallucinations of DiCaprio’s dead wife (Dawson Creeks Michelle Williams) and it soon transpires – nothing is quite what it appears to be, both as far as the investigation goes and the movie as a whole.
Martin Scorsese has crafted a mind-boggling but striking movie, full of twists and turns and with some incredible imagery, that although more disturbing than frightening still left this viewer unnerved. There are moments in this one that will stick with you, some imaginative effects work and a foreboding, orchestral score that really hammers home the dark and unsettling atmosphere created by the island and the gothic psychiatric hospital that harks back to The Shining for being a character in its own right.
Definitely one of the cleverest movie’s I’ve seen for a while.
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