Umberto Eco wrote, "Two clichés make us laugh but a hundred clichés move us, because we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion." Shutter Island is that reunion, and that shrine.
Scorsese is pushing, I guess, for something that combines a '40s horror-thriller with a contemporary psychological tragedy. What he ends up with is more like a Hardy Boys mystery directed by David Lynch.
"Shutter Island" is not from the Scorsese who stands astride film like a colossus; instead, it's a giddy, gory gift from the Scorsese who sits beside us in the theater, elbowing us at the good bits and taking in the sinister spectacle up on screen.
The movie is inert, despite the fact that it bombards us with lurid imagery and high-intensity stimuli: frozen Dachau victims, dying Nazis, beautiful child murderesses, abandoned graveyards besieged by hurricanes.
It may not have any of the technological bells and whistles of the latest 3-D offerings, but no movie in recent memory immerses the audience so deeply in its look and feel as the old-fashioned, two-dimensional Shutter Island.
Since more attention has gone into filigreeing details into each scene than worrying about the way they'll fit together, the rattletrap engages you moment-to-moment, even as the overall pacing stops and lurches alarmingly.