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Member's Reviews

Shutter Island, a review by Jon

Shutter Island
4 out of 5

From Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is the story of two U.S. marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), who are summoned to a remote and barren island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from the island’s fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane.

While not a horror as such, this has enough elements to warrant inclusion in the tail end of the genre, the end that becomes pure thriller. And what an excellent contribution to the genre this is.

Shutter Island and Inception are like two sides of the same cinematic coin and it’s interesting that Leonardo DiCaprio should star in both. The stories bear some comparison, not least with the lead character being a widower still dealing with grief and letting it dictate his perception of a mystery. Perhaps the only fundamental difference is in the telling of the story. While Inception is very much a modern filmmaking style, especially prevalent since The Matrix, making the viewer gasp at spectacular set-pieces while leaving intriguing questions unanswered, Shutter Island is a decidedly old fashioned, unashamed b-movie.  It is structured in a meticulous manner, as you would expect from Martin Scorcese. He turns the screws on the suspense, leading up to a stunning reveal. You won’t be left asking what happened, but you’ll race to see it again to learn exactly how! And because it is very much an actor’s film, you’ll be treated to consummate performances that reward being watched again.

DiCaprio delivers an intense performance you can’t ignore in what is after all a genre role that he could have easily got away with phoning in. As he so often does, he works potential out of every scene and finds subtleties to hook you with time and time again as Teddy finds the awful atmosphere of the asylum forcing him to face up to his grief. But as I said, this is an actor’s film anyway and all the cast are superb. Mark Ruffalo as Teddy’s partner is especially impressive, as is the hard to read Dr. Cawley, played by Ben Kingsley. Another worth noting is Jackie Earl Hayley, who has the briefest of moments as one of the unhinged inmates, but leaves a mark.

The story of US Marshalls investigating a missing patient and uncovering a potential conspiracy of medical experimentation was adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, so it should be no surprise that there is such depth to the characters. His skill is in taking straightforward thriller plots and making them relevant and substantial (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) without losing the pace. Martin Scorcese compliments the story perfectly and this is probably his most playful film since Cape Fear, with some moments bordering on fantasy, like Teddy’s nightmares achieved with just the right amount of CGI. He was somewhat inspired by Val Lewton’s work of the 1940s (Cat People, Bedlam, etc), a producer he has championed in the past, and one who worked fast and cheap with b-movie plots, yet always had a very strong human element that made them an invaluable step in developing the Thriller genre.  It positively drips with atmosphere from that era. The opening shots are especially reminiscent of Lewton’s Ghost Ship, as the ferry carrying the Marshalls emerges from the mist. Scorcese with Director of Photography Robert Richardson (Inglourious Basterds) has created a film that defines sumptuous, despite the muted palette.

It seems the aim in modern filmmaking to make the audience question what they see. People are still talking about Inception, trying to interpret how the story unfolds, trying to work out Nolan the Magician. Shutter Island is reassuringly old-fashioned with a rigid screenplay that stands up to scrutiny, but don’t scrutinise it while you watch it, just enjoy it. The work going on between the cast and their director is superb, with them adding so many grace-notes that a second viewing is essential. While not as grand as Inception, I’d argue this is may be the better film.

(From Jon's Horror-thon 2010 on November 2nd, 2010)

Member's Reviews

Dead Creatures, a review by addicted2dvd

     Dead Creatures (2001/United Kingdom)
IMDb |Trailer |
MTI Home Video
Director:Andrew Parkinson
Writing:Andrew Parkinson (Writer)
Length:88 min.
Rating:Rated R : Violence/Gore, Language, Sexuality/Nudity and Drug Use
Video:Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:English: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo

Beverly Wilson as Jo
Antonia Beamish as Ann
Brendan Gregory as Reece
Anna Swift as Sian
Bart Ruspoli as Christian
Fiona Carr as Zoe

In the center of a large and unknowing city, a group of young women huddle together in a small apartment, tending to a sick friend whose skin is rotting to the bone. These women have been cursed with a secret malady that has made them members of an urban subculture, where their only way of survival is to continually feed on humans. They have been forced to abandon their once normal lives to now prowl the dark streets and alleyways in search of their next victim. But these hunters are also being hunted. There is a mysterious man walking these same streets, who will stop at nothing until they are abolished - one by one.

Welcome to the doomed universe of Andrew Parkinson's Dead Creatures.

  • Scene Access
  • Audio Commentary
  • Bonus Trailers
  • Featurettes
  • Production Notes

My Thoughts:
While it has it's moments... I really couldn't get into this one. I found it to be both slow and a bit on the strange side. Half the time I had no idea where they were going in the story. But that could be because I found my attention wandering early into the film. But I did feel the film has potential. Maybe it will be better to me if I give it another chance and this time make sure I pay a bit more attention to it.

My Rating:
Out of a Possible 5

(From Weekend Movie Marathon: Last Chance Horror on August 10th, 2012)

Member's TV Reviews

2016 TV Pilot Reviews, a review by DJ Doena

Speechless Website
Speechless @ Wikipedia
Speechless @ IMDb

The Dimeo family has once again moved to give their eldest son J.J. a chance at a new school. J.J. has cerebral palsy*, an illness that binds him to a wheelchair and makes him unable to speak (but not to express himself).

J.J.'s mom Maya is the driving factor behind this move because her entire life now revolves around J.J., to give him the best care and education possible.

But her other two kids are slowly getting fed up with getting uprooted all the time for some perceived (though sometimes not even actual) improvement of J.J.'s life.

J.J.'s new school is very tolerant and open-minded but no one can meet Maya's standards and expectations which becomes obvious when the new school can only offer the garbage ramp for J.J. instead of a proper wheelchair access at the front door.

J.J.'s dad is a laid-back guy who doesn't really care what other think about him and he manages to counter-balance his wife and not lose focus on the fact that there are two more children to be raised.

I've already seen a few more episodes and this show manages to have an interesting balancing act.

On the one hand they actually show the problems people with disabilities have to face and oftentimes the mom comes out as a textbook Social Justice Warrior who fights the fight just for the sake of fighting the fight.

But they do it so over the top (for example, the entire school wants to make J.J. class president just because he's disabled and not based on any merits) and interlaced with good humour that they manage to get their point across without appearing preachy.

It absolutely helps that J.J. himself is a very balanced kid who overcomes his disabilities with the tools he has at hand.

While Minnie Driver's (Maya) character reminds me of her role in About a Boy (the series), John Ross Bowie's dad on the other hand is nothing like The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon's foil Barry Kripke.

*Both the actor as well the character have cerebral palsy, an illness that also afflicts Breaking Bad's actor RJ Mitte.

(From 2016 TV Pilot Reviews on October 21st, 2016)