Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 37
  2. Negative: 4 out of 37
Watch On
  1. When was the last time you had to wait until the final sentence of a film to understand all the details? When was the last time you went to a genre movie – or what looked like one in spooky trailers – and realized the director had fulfilled that promise and meditated on his favorite topic? Shutter Island does just that.
  2. 91
    There’s a purpose to all this madness--though to talk about the primary reason the film succeeds would be giving the game away--but it should be appreciated first as a vivid, waking nightmare.
  3. Martin Scorsese has created a divinely dark and devious brain tease of a movie in the best noir tradition with its smarter than you'd think cops, their tougher than you'd imagine cases to crack and enough nods to the classic genre for an all-night parlor game.
  4. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Not since "Raging Bull" has Mr. Scorsese so brazenly married brutality to beauty. Not since "Kundun" has one of his films felt so aspirational.
  5. 88
    DiCaprio, in his most haunting and emotionally complex performance yet, is the vessel Scorsese uses to lead us through the film’s laby­rinth.
  6. 88
    The film's primary effect is on the senses. Everything is brought together into a disturbing foreshadow of dreadful secrets.
  7. 83
    Atmospheric, absorbing and completely in the control of the man who made it -- unlike, especially, “Bringing Out the Dead,” which it sometimes resembles.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Even when it's clear Scorsese has decided to employ fakery and allow it to be obvious, it's done with elegance and beauty.
  9. It's not a great movie so much as it is great moviemaking. It's basically a potboiler genre film, a B-movie with big talent attached.
  10. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    DiCaprio delivers a startling prettyboy-to-tough nut makeover – but he has to play it close to his chest here for the storyline to play out. Once you get past the trickery, Shutter Island offers sumptuous, enthralling, shivery gothic filmmaking with a hardboiled heart and a sly line in asylum humour. If a pot is being boiled, at least it’s an intricately-decorated pot on a spectacular fire.
  11. 78
    It's pure Bedlam, but for genre fans, Scorsese makes it feel like coming home.
  12. Shutter Island holds you, but it doesn't grip you. It's as if Scorsese had put his filmmaking fever on psychotropic drugs.
  13. 75
    The tone and mood of Shutter Island are different on the screen from on the page -- the shadows darker than you imagined, the violence more ghastly, the blood redder.
  14. 75
    A case can be made that the movie is so enamored with this aspect of its approach that it fails to connect on an emotional level. Shutter Island addresses some powerful, disturbing concepts but, despite effective performances by the leads, the movie's psychological impact is minimal.
  15. 75
    Scorsese has great fun with a story that in the final analysis does not really demand to be taken any more seriously as history than "Inglourious Basterds."
  16. It's a pleasure to experience Scorsese as a circus master. One just hopes he doesn't continue in this vein.
  17. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    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.
  18. Shutter Island is a bear hug to cinema while it’s also an occasionally tart valentine to genre.
  19. 70
    What Scorsese brings to the table, having created more than his share of rascally villains, is a renewed sense of horror and despair at the power of evil.
  20. 70
    No one is denying the energy and the dread that stalked the best B movies of the past, but, when the best director of the present revives such monsters, how can he hope to do better than a B-plus?
  21. 63
    This gruesome thriller set in a fogbound insane asylum is incomprehensible and fatally flawed, but having said all of that, I will also say this: It never seems anything less than the work of a skillful film buff. Mr. Scorsese may be a smart aleck, but he’s a professional smart aleck.
  22. 63
    It’s not bad, but as Scorsese, America’s greatest living filmmaker and film history buff should know, even Hitchcock came up short on occasion.
  23. This quasi-horror film has the great director's usual craftsmanship and a stellar cast, but ultimately it's an infuriating trick that makes its most provocative ideas disappear.
  24. There are many many fine performers here, including the terrific Patricia Clarkson as the elusive Rachel. But Shutter Island is not so much a character study as it is an atmospheric thriller.
  25. 63
    This is a long, heavy film, in which Scorsese’s aerobic moviemaking turns mannered and uncharacteristically passive.
  26. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Despite its flaws, Shutter Island is worth seeing for the palpably nightmarish and gothic world conceived by Scorsese
  27. Shutter Island is slumming: minor but enjoyably nuts.
  28. The ending is powerful..., but Shutter Island is a long slog.
  29. It is less a film than a puny trampoline -- an occasion, though a grim one, for this most fervently movie-mad of American directors to show off his love for the various pulp genres mooshed together by the 2003 Dennis Lehane novel.
  30. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Shutter Island is an aesthetically and at times intellectually exciting puzzle, but it's never emotionally involving.
  31. Was it worth slogging through the nearly two hours of damned muddle to get to those last affecting moments? Not often in movies is the destination so much better than the journey.
  32. It comes on strong, but in its bloody heart of hearts it’s no more resonant than one of those old Vincent Price-Edgar Allan Poe contraptions – and less entertaining, too.
  33. For all the trickiness and bluster, Shutter Island is dead inside.
  34. 38
    If Shutter Island, a gothic thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, were put to a free association test, the word most likely to come to mind would certainly be "weird."
  35. 30
    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.
  36. Scorsese stuffs the film with heavy-handed art direction and piles on a ludicrously ominous soundtrack. The soundtrack is a constant reminder of the movie's importance and only highlights its unimportance.
  37. 20
    Something TERRIBLE is afoot. Sadly, that something turns out to be the movie itself.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 746 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 33 out of 230
  1. Oct 4, 2011
    Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" is a thrilling entertainment thanks to great performances from Di Caprio and Kingsley, but the film fallsMartin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" is a thrilling entertainment thanks to great performances from Di Caprio and Kingsley, but the film falls short for its lasting appeal. Good movie overall, but stick with your "American" crime Scorsese. Full Review »
  2. Sep 14, 2010
    I'll keep it short. This film is one of the best films I have seen recently. So intense, thrilling and it keeps you to the edge of your seat.I'll keep it short. This film is one of the best films I have seen recently. So intense, thrilling and it keeps you to the edge of your seat. From prologue to the epilogue it's so perfect. What can you expect more from a director of his caliber.!!!!! Full Review »
  3. Dec 15, 2010
    One of the most beautiful movies that I have seen. Di Caprio is fantastic in his interpretation, and the plot is very interesting, since at the end...