Where was Shutter Island filmed?
Peddocks Island and Medfield, MA; other locations in Maine and California
Beach/Oceanview, Hospitals/Medical, Police/Jails
Boat Style, Dated/Retro, Federal Building
About Shutter Island
The year is 1954 and US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) have been assigned to a mysterious case. A patient has miraculously escaped from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane, and the two marshals are dispatched to work out how this is even possible.
Located on the secluded and forbidding Shutter Island in Boston Harbor, the asylum was thought to be impregnable. Despite that, Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer), a woman committed for drowning her three children, has somehow disappeared from a locked room.
But right from the very first moment the marshals arrive on the island, something just doesn’t seem quite right about the facility. The staff, among them, lead psychiatrist Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), seem to be hiding something and are desperate to stop the investigators from uncovering the truth. And with rumors abounding about the brutal treatment methods used at the hospital, from lobotomies to psychotropic drugs, an air of menace hangs over the island.
But that’s far from the only problem, as Teddy is also battling his own demons. Not only did he witness the horrors of the Dachau concentration camp as a soldier in World War II, but his wife (Michelle Williams) was previously killed in an apartment fire. In fact, he pulled strings to get assigned to this case because Laeddis, the man who started the fire that killed his wife, is a patient at the hospital.
And as Teddy and Chuck widen their investigation, it all starts to unravel. Teddy’s grip on reality starts to waver, and it soon becomes impossible to tell what’s real and what’s just a figment of his imagination.
What happened to the missing patient? What do the hospital staff have to hide? Can Teddy trust his partner? And what are the demons from Teddy’s past that will bring the case to a shocking — and unexpected — conclusion?
Directed by Martin Scorcese and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio at his best, Shutter Island is a twisted and tense psychological thriller. We’ve tracked down the locations where some of the best scenes from Shutter Island were filmed (spoiler alert!), so keep reading to find out how to find them for yourself.
Shutter Island Locations
Shutter Island was filmed at a host of different locations, most of them found in Massachusetts and Maine. Peddocks Island, located in Boston Harbor, is the site of the rocky coastline the two marshals see at the start of the film as the boat takes them to Shutter Island. You can also see what’s left of Fort Andrews on the island as the boat approaches the pier.
But the location of Ashecliffe Hospital is found somewhere else entirely. In Medfield, in fact, some 25 miles southwest of Boston, where the abandoned Medfield State Hospital (once the Medfield Insane Asylum) is located. This is where you’ll find the psychiatric facility’s main building and Wards A and B.
If you’re looking for the mansion where Teddy and Chuck endure a tense exchange with Dr. Cawley and Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow), you’ll need to head for Turner Hill Golf Club in Ipswich, MA.
The Shutter Island production crew even relied on shots from Acadia National Park in Maine as well as the Big Sur coastline in California to create the island’s dramatic landscape. So if you’re keen to check out some of the movie’s best filming locations, your journey will take you to points all over the country.
Shutter Island isn’t the only film where DiCaprio and Scorcese have joined forces. They also teamed up for The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Teddy and Chuck travel to Shutter Island scene in Shutter Island
The opening scenes of Shutter Island introduce us to Teddy and Chuck as they make their way to Shutter Island by boat. Chuck is laid-back and relaxed, but Teddy appears to be a seasick mess. “I just can’t stomach the water,” he admits to Chuck, in a line that’ll take on a much more important meaning by the end of the film.
We also learn about Teddy’s wife’s death, but then we’re treated to our first glimpse of the island. With the imposing notes of the musical score in the background, Shutter Island looks like one very scary place indeed. And as the two marshals are greeted with a hostile reception as they come ashore, it’s already clear that this investigation is going to be anything but routine.
“Your boys seem a little on edge,” a suspicious Teddy says to Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch). Right now, marshal, we all are,” he responds ominously.
Peddocks Island, which sits in Boston Harbor off the coast of Quincy, was chosen as the setting for this intimidating introduction to Shutter Island. There’s a ferry wharf on the island’s northeastern corner, and from there you can see the remains of Fort Andrews that appear on-screen in the film.
Teddy relives the horrors of World War II scene in Shutter Island
Throughout the film, the ongoing action is interspersed with Teddy’s flashbacks to his life with his wife and the life-changing experiences he encountered while serving in World War II. In one particular scene, we see that Teddy’s unit liberated prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp, and Teddy was horrified and permanently scarred by what they found.
We see just how affected Teddy is when he spots the body of a dead woman cradling her daughter among a stack of bodies. And then, when the German commander of the concentration camp tries to kill himself, he’s unsuccessful and only manages to wound himself — and Teddy is determined not to let him take the easy way out.
As the German reaches for his gun once again, Teddy moves the weapon out of his reach, then watches the other man suffer a painful and protracted death.
The Dachau concentration camp scenes were actually shot at Whittenton Mills in Taunton, MA. Found roughly 40 miles south of Boston, the mills are just a short drive off the Blue Star Memorial Highway.
Teddy and Chuck argue with Dr. Cawley and Dr. Naehring scene in Shutter Island
Turner Hill Golf Club
After a largely fruitless interrogation of the staff, Teddy and Chuck are invited to Dr. Cawley’s mansion for a drink. As thunder crashes outside, the marshals admire the mansion’s opulent interior and come face to face with Dr. Naehring, and Teddy and the imperious doctor get involved in some verbal sparring.
It’s clear there’s something about the doctor that rubs Teddy the wrong way, such as his German accent or his imperious manner. “Men like you are my specialty; men of violence,” the doctor tells Teddy and Chuck. “Since the schoolyard, neither of you has ever walked away from a physical conflict. Not because you enjoy it, but because retreat isn’t something you consider an option.”
This tense Shutter Island film scene is interspersed with flashbacks of Teddy’s time in wartime Germany, and there’s a real air of menace hanging over every exchange.
If you want to check out Dr. Cawley’s mansion for yourself, head to Turner Hill Golf Club. Located on Topsfield Road in Ipswich, some 25 miles northeast of Boston, the mansion here is even available for hire as a wedding venue.
Teddy and Chuck get caught in the storm scene in Shutter Island
Wilson Mountain Reservation
“Storm’s coming,” the boat captain tells the two marshals on the ride out to the island, encouraging them to disembark as quickly as possible. And after Teddy and Chuck finish questioning the hospital patients, Chuck appears to suspect that all is not as it seems with Teddy’s motivations for taking on the case.
As the rain starts to fall, Chuck confronts Teddy to find out why he’s been asking each patient about a man named Laeddis. Teddy reveals that he took the case to track down Laeddis, the man he blames for his wife’s death, and the two marshals then begin searching the cemetery for the missing patient, Rachel.
As they do, Chuck demands to know what one of the patients said to Teddy in the interview while Chuck was out of the room. But she didn’t say something — she wrote it. Teddy shows Chuck his notebook, where the patient has scribbled one word in big, bold letters: RUN. Then, with hurricane-like winds lashing the two men and trees falling around them, they make a desperate dash for safety.
These woods are actually found in Wilson Mountain Reservation, in Dedham, MA, 20 miles southwest of Boston. This 207-acre park is easily accessible, and standing at 295 feet, it also offers good views of the surrounding terrain.
Teddy scales the cliffs scene in Shutter Island
As Teddy and Chuck investigate Rachel’s mysterious disappearance, they hear rumors about the island’s lighthouse, which is supposedly where the staff conduct lobotomies and other medical experiments on difficult patients. Teddy is desperate to check out the lighthouse for himself, but Chuck is hesitant — which only heightens Teddy’s paranoia about whether or not he can truly trust his partner.
The two decide to head out on separate routes, but Teddy soon discovers that he can’t access the lighthouse due to the incoming tide. But when Teddy returns there’s no sign of Chuck, until Teddy spots his body on the rocks far below. He scrambles down the cliff face to help but when he gets there, Chuck’s body is gone.
The rocky shoreline and sheer cliff faces here were actually filmed at Otter Cliff in Maine’s Acadia National Park, around 50 miles southeast of Bangor. Shooting here reportedly involved a crew of 40 people and the use of a 70-foot crane. Take Park Loop Road to get there.
Teddy learns what really happened to his family scene in Shutter Island
Leach Pond in Borderland State Park
As Shutter Island reaches its shocking conclusion, the audience is treated to one almighty twist: Teddy isn’t really a US marshal, he’s a patient at the hospital. And his name isn’t Teddy at all — it’s Laeddis.
In a disturbing flashback scene, we see Laeddis/Teddy return home in his younger years to his lakeside house to find his wife, Dolores, acting very strangely. “Where are the kids?” he asks, increasingly concerned, and Dolores says they’re in school. Laeddis gently reminds her that school isn’t in on Saturday, but her response is chilling: “My school is,” she smiles.
That’s when he notices the bodies of his children floating in the lake. The mentally-ill Dolores has drowned them, and Laeddis tries frantically to save them but he’s too late.
This horrific scene was filmed at Leach Pond in Borderland State Park, North Easton. There you’ll find the stone lodge that served as the family’s home before Laeddis’ life was destroyed by tragedy.
Shutter Island may not be the first film that springs to mind when you think of Leonardo DiCaprio’s starring roles, but Leo’s performance in this holds up against any of his other critically acclaimed turns. This gripping psychological thriller gets its hooks into you early and doesn’t let up right until its shocking conclusion, and when a movie is directed by Martin Scorcese, you know it’s going to leave plenty of lasting memories.
Though some of the most memorable settings from the film were created using CGI, you can still get out and about to visit a host of great Shutter Island filming locations in person. So if you’re a DiCaprio fan, obsessed with Scorcese, or just a good old-fashioned movie buff, why not explore some or all of the Shutter Island locations listed here?