(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)
20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Shutter Island
Martin Scorsese followed his Best Picture and Director-winning The Departed with his most directly entertaining, plot twist-heavy movie, a psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio investigating a remote asylum with a missing patient. Of course, it’s apparent from the beginning things aren’t as they seem…
If you’re looking for more movies like Shutter Island, why not start with the grandaddy of unreliable narrator movies: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It may be 100 (!) years old, but it still has the power to spook and captivate.
Part of Shutter Island‘s fun is that it encourages viewers to participate in solving the mystery, poke holes in the movie’s established reality, and look for the actual truth. It requires filmmaking mastery to create these puzzle boxes, so it’s not surprising some of our most beloved directors built their reputation on these: Alfred Hitchcock (Rebecca, Vertigo), David Fincher (The Game, Gone Girl), Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), and David Lynch (Mulholland Drive).
Movies like Shutter Island are all about building paranoia, like the hero has tapped into something true and sinister that nobody else is taking seriously. And frequently they’re told from a female perspective: Along with the already mentioned Black Swan, there’s also The Girl on the Train, the classic Diabolique, and Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, who’s convinced the missing son the police have returned to her is not her boy.
Psychological thrillers like Shutter Island differ from typical mysteries in that the nature of the film itself is the central mystery, as opposed to, say, figuring out who the murderer is. Movies in this vein include Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky), John Frankenheimer’s Seconds (which helped drive Brian Wilson over the edge in real life), the sci-fi noir Dark City, the relentlessly scary Jacob’s Ladder, and A Scanner Darkly, arguably Keanu Reeves’ best movie made in that period between The Matrix and the Keanussance.
And if you’re looking for something more basic and primal, check out Identity or Secret Window. Not too taxing on the mind, but they’ll still give it a good twist.
Adjusted Score: 59060%
Critics Consensus: Emily Blunt's outstanding performance isn't enough to keep The Girl on the Train from sliding sluggishly into exploitative melodrama.
Despite her struggles with memory loss, a voyeuristic alcoholic (Emily Blunt) tries to help police solve the mystery of a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50983%
Critics Consensus: Depp is quirkily entertaining, but the movie runs out of steam by the end.
Mysterious events plague a troubled author (Johnny Depp) after a menacing stranger (John Turturro) accuses him of plagiarism.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70034%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully shot and well-acted, Changeling is a compelling story that unfortunately gives in to convention too often.
After her son is kidnapped and later found, a woman (Angelina Jolie) insists that the boy who was returned to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66657%
Critics Consensus: Identity is a film that will divide audiences -- the twists of its plot will either impress or exasperate you.
A killer terrorizes people (John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet) stranded at a remote Nevada hotel during a torrential rainstorm.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74249%
Critics Consensus: A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author's conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.
In Orange County, Calif., a drug-addicted cop (Keanu Reeves) who works under cover receives orders to spy on his housemates... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77476%
Critics Consensus: Even with its disorienting leaps of logic and structure, Jacob's Ladder is an engrossing, nerve-shattering experience.
A Vietnam vet prone to flashbacks walks the edge of sanity as he searches for the cause of his nightmarish... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80157%
Critics Consensus: The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.
A control freak's (Michael Douglas) disreputable brother (Sean Penn) introduces him to a mysterious game that invades his ordered existence.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81333%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
A demented genius (Kiefer Sutherland), a sympathetic detective and a group of ominous beings are drawn to an amnesiac (Rufus... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80242%
Critics Consensus: Brad Anderson's dark psychological thriller about a sleepless factory worker is elevated by Christian Bale astonishingly committed performance.
Cryptic notes and encounters with a mysterious stranger torment a drill-press operator (Christian Bale) who has not slept in a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90125%
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
An actress (Naomi Watts) goes to Los Angeles to audition for a director (Justin Theroux) and falls into a conspiracy... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95694%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction -- and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman.
A ballerina (Natalie Portman) begins to lose her fragile grip on reality as a sultry newcomer (Mila Kunis) threatens to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86703%
Critics Consensus: Director Alejandro AmenÃ¡bar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit.
A former womanizer (Eduardo Noriega), disfigured in a car crash, has trouble distinguishing dreams from reality.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105347%
Critics Consensus: Dark, intelligent, and stylish to a fault, Gone Girl plays to director David Fincher's sick strengths while bringing the best out of stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
A man (Ben Affleck) reports that his wife (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, but his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100450%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
A thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) who enters people's dreams and steals their secrets gets a shot at redemption when he is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92434%
Critics Consensus: Featuring dazzling, disorienting cinematography from the great James Wong Howe and a strong lead performance by Rock Hudson, Seconds is a compellingly paranoid take on the legend of Faust.
A sinister company turns a plain client (John Randolph) into a tall, dark and handsome Malibu artist (Rock Hudson).... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100901%
Critics Consensus: Christopher Nolan skillfully guides the audience through Memento's fractured narrative, seeping his film in existential dread.
A barmaid (Carrie-Anne Moss) and a friend (Joe Pantoliano) help a man (Guy Pearce) who has short-term-memory loss since his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107045%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.
A former San Francisco detective (James Stewart) who dreads heights falls for a woman (Kim Novak) he is hired to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102333%
Critics Consensus: Cruel, dark, but undeniably effective, Diabolique is a suspense thriller as effective as Hitchcock's best work and with a brilliant twist ending.
A wife (Vera Clouzot) and a mistress (Simone Signoret) conspire to murder the brutal headmaster (Paul Meurisse) of a school... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114273%
Critics Consensus: Arguably the first true horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set a brilliantly high bar for the genre -- and remains terrifying nearly a century after it first stalked the screen.
A hypnotist (Werner Krauss) in black exhibits a cabinet, which contains a pale man (Conrad Veidt) in black in a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114093%
Critics Consensus: Hitchcock's first American film (and his only Best Picture winner), Rebecca is a masterpiece of haunting atmosphere, Gothic thrills, and gripping suspense.
A British gentleman's (Laurence Olivier) innocent bride (Joan Fontaine) grapples with intrusive reminders of his deceased wife.... [More]