Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shutter Island, dearly departed.

Yesterday, the news broke via Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily that Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island has been pushed back to February 2010. Paramount's Brad Grey released a statement blaming the economy (pretty much the same reason Warner moved Potter in 2008 -- they've made all the money they need to and want 2010 to have a little more financial security), but it doesn't matter. From where I'm standing, it sends a clear message to audiences everywhere: that the movie can officially be ignored.
Now, of course, I might be overreacting, and I haven't seen Shutter Island, so it could certainly suck and then I wouldn't have anything to say about it, but the way most of the people I've talked to about the movie have reacted is depressing to me. I understand that the majority of horror movies made these days aren't that good, but when did the whole genre become useless to people? Why is Martin Scorsese directing a horror film any less interesting than directing another crime film? In fact, shouldn't it be more interesting, because Scorsese has less horror films on his resume (not to mention plenty of crime films)?

When I posted the trailer a couple of months ago, the fact that Scorsese had made a horror movie was, personally, the most exciting thing about it. What I wrote then still holds true: there's nothing like seeing a really creepy, skin-crawlingly, lights-on-all-night, disturbing horror movie, and that pleasure these days is rare. Even Drag Me to Hell (also totally, unfairly ignored by genre fans and one of my five favorite movies of 2009) is more of a funhouse horror movie, the kind where things pop out and you laugh at yourself for being frightened. Ephemeral TFP writer Matt Lingo (mentioned in more articles than he's actually bothered to write at this point) and I agree, some of the dialogue in the trailer just chills the bones. "The nurses, the orderlies, they couldn't possibly know!"

The trailer is also gorgeous. Every single shot is visually stunning: the glow of Michelle Williams in some sort of picturesque-but-twisted Norman Rockwell perfection, the flickering lightbulbs over the guards in slow motion, the subtle, seemingly reverse photography of DiCaprio alone in a library or study, where the smoke pulls backward into the cigarette. Some of it isn't even that subtle: the way the fire engulfs a building while two survivors stand in front of it with dead eyes or how Williams vanishes as DiCaprio embraces her.

There's also the great appeal of the cast, including DiCaprio and Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, John Carroll Lynch and the authoritatively imposing Max Von Sydow.

There are remarkably uninspiring posters for the movie (which suprisingly fail to play up the seemingly obvious "Who is 67?" hook built right into the movie), and obviously nothing can be done now to try and lure Shutter Island back to 2009. But I'm afraid of something more than who the 67th patient is on Shutter Island, and that's that despite plenty of starpower and one of the greatest living directors, nobody will care when the movie finally arrives in February 2010.

Here's the trailer again, just for edification.

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