“Shutter Island” on the small screen: Could it be creepier than “True Detective”?

The news out of LA-LA land is that HBO is partnering with Paramount Television to bring a prequel of “Shutter Island” to the small screen. The series, “Ashecliffe,” will delve into the history of the so-named creeptastic psychiatric hospital in which Leo DiCaprio went very far down the rabbit hole in the 2010 film. The pilot will be directed by Martin Scorcese, who directed the film, and scripted by novelist Dennis Lehane, who  penned the original 2003 book.

But after HBO’s own “True Detective” is poised to rack up Emmys for its tale of a Satanic cult in the Louisiana backwaters, it’s worth wondering who belongs more in the mental ward: Louisiana detective Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) in “True,” or U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels in “Shutter”?

It’s debatable, isn’t it?

Teddy was never really sure of who was doing what in the bowels of Ashecliffe, set in Boston Harbor. He and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) arrive in a mental (if not physical) fog, investigating the disappearance of a patient who killed her three children. He hasn’t been feeling well lately, his partner seems to be his only friend (although that’s dodgy, too), and the whole place seems to drive him crazy. The answer to the puzzle is staring him right in the face from the beginning, but he can’t see it.

Rust — dear, dear Rust — was a murder-obsessed detective who was never really sure of who was doing what back yonder in the bayou. He and his partner Marty (Woody Harrelson) arrive on the first crime scene just after the fog of smoke has burned away. They’re investigating a ritual murder of one woman,  the disappearance of at least one other and children turn up missing or dead. He hasn’t been feeling well lately, his partner seems to be his only friend (although that’s dodgy, too) and the whole of southern Louisiana seems to drive him crazy. The answer to the puzzle is staring him right in the face from the beginning, but he can’t see it.

The odds are good that Lehane and Scorcese will make “Ashecliffe” equally weird, violent and wonderful. But if they get stuck, they might want to consider calling in Rust in the final episode. He knows, like Teddy, that in a lot of dreams, there’s a monster at the end of it.

 

 

Neely Tucker is a staff writer in the Sunday Magazine. He has reported from more than 50 countries around the world and from two dozen of these United States.
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