Not a Hallucination: ‘Shutter Island’ Series Heading to HBO

By  · Published on August 25th, 2014

Paramount Pictures

If there’s anything that HBO has figured out this year, it’s that True Detective’s success means that audiences are more than willing to sit down for an hour of creepiness, darkness, peculiar monologues and mysteries upon mysteries. So it’s fitting that a series based on Shutter Island, the 2010 psychological thriller from Martin Scorsese that pitted Leonardo DiCaprio against the staff of a rundown mental institution, and ultimately his own head, is coming to the network.

Tentatively titled Ashecliffe, as in the name of the mental facility located right on scenic Shutter Island (You’ll never want to leave), HBO and Paramount Television have teamed up to bring the adaptation to life, with Scorsese actually set to direct the pilot and Dennis Lehane, the author of the novel that inspired the film, writing the script, and DiCaprio one of many executive producers. The series is set in the years before Shutter Island takes place, and will explore the past of the hospital. As if the current state of the institution (in 1954, as the film was set) wasn’t corrupt and decrepit enough, it’s clear that before US Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) even stepped foot on that disgusting soil decades of corruption were already underway.

Apparently, the founders of the hospital were up to no good when they erected the very, very isolated mental facility in the early 20th century, and there are a few secrets up their sleeves that are definitely going to come out now. They also pioneered quite a few “innovative” methods of treatment for the mentally ill – and it’s very clear that those methods worked so well. Nobody was scarred for life or traumatized beyond belief or anything, right?

Though Shutter Island was an exceptionally dark film in which Daniels and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo) were sent to the hospital to investigate the disappearance of a patient and wound up getting in way over their heads – both emotionally and psychologically – it’s unclear if the HBO series will employ the same tone as the film. It’s likely that it will, with original author Lehane on board and Scorsese directing, but it would be interesting if the series took on a campier air, somewhat like American Horror Story: Asylum.

Just imagine the possibilities of terrifying hallucinations featuring a weeping Michelle Williams stand-in talking about happiness and burning buildings (there’s surely some link to that in the origin story, right?), if HBO could up the camp-factor. More ugly-crying and flouncy dresses for everyone. It’s a mental asylum on a spooky island filled with mysteries, sinister doctors and a diverse cast of mental patients to explore.

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