"Shutter Island" is not what it seems. The reteaming of director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (and an original late-2009 release date) points to an Oscar contender. The film's recent ad campaign points to Scorsese doing a straight-up horror flick. The reality lies somewhere in the foggy distance between.

"Shutter Island" is not what it seems. The reteaming of director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (and an original late-2009 release date) points to an Oscar contender. The film's recent ad campaign points to Scorsese doing a straight-up horror flick. The reality lies somewhere in the foggy distance between.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), journey to a remote island off the Massachusetts coast, home to a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. They're investigating the disappearance of a female patient at a hospital where escape seems impossible.

Teddy's probe runs up against a tight-lipped staff, headed by the stern Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley). Layer upon layer of mysteries unfold, and Teddy's own thoughts become muddied with traumas of his past. When a patient tells Teddy he's just "a rat in a maze," the audience can sympathize.

"Shutter Island" is a pulpy, chewy labyrinth of a film. It may turn off both those who don't like a challenge and those who expect high art from Scorsese each time out.

As far as Scorsese's work goes, it's probably closest in tone to his "Cape Fear" remake, but its nearer kin is Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" - another example of a master director taking a stab at a scary story.

Is it that good? Well, no. But it's a hell of a screw-turner and a hell of a head-scratcher. I'm the sort of moviegoer who enjoys both of those things.

DiCaprio throws himself into this headfirst with a Boston drawl thick as chowder, and he gets great support, particularly the sinister-doctor tag team of Kingsley and Max von Sydow.

But ultimately, it'll come down to the film's resolution and whether you like what's at the end of this maze. And, after a two-and-a-half-hour trip, you've got a lot riding on that.