Not surprisingly, many horror movie villains suffer from serious mental illness, mental disorder, or physical ailments that can cause them to behave strangely. Become monsters who commit atrocities against innocent victims, stalking, murdering, raping, molesting and bullying their prey.
Sometimes a vicious cycle of torture, misery, insanity and criminality is created in which the victim becomes the victim of other victims who are often just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their actions are so horrific that some people confuse their actions with demons, immortal goblins, mutants, ghosts, or demons themselves.
Although these films often allow supernatural and natural possibilities to explain the description of events, medical science usually allows for only one cause, although the cause, mental illness, applies to the villains and victims of films like Stephen King’s enormous, which take many forms to carry out, all horrifying and terrifying.
Shutter Island (2010), the film adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel by the same title, keeps audiences on the edges of their seats with astounding plot twists. Nothing is as it first appears. U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels seeks a patient who has recently disappeared from an insane asylum. His mission seems to shift to that of exposing the facility “as an expensive, cutting-edge torture chamber.” During the film’s “final act,” audiences learn that the movie is really about Teddy’s psychosis.
As a World War II veteran, Teddy experienced a good deal of trauma, but he managed to cope, although not in the best of ways: he becomes both an alcoholic and a workaholic. His coping strategies provide him “just enough emotional detachment to blind him from” another dangerous threat: his murderous bipolar wife Dolores, whom he kills after discovering that she has drowned their three children. Instead of developing PTSD, Teddy develops delusional disorder. Although he remains “high functioning,” he is subject to delusions.
Teddy’s delusions are extreme and intense, and it is his mental disorder that drives the movie’s plot, just as it directs his own delusional life as a prisoner who believes himself to be free, a patient who thinks he is well, and a killer who supposes he seeks the truth. His victims are not only himself, but his wife, and, in the opinion of Jeremy Clyman, Psy.D., the public at large, to whom the movie does the disservice of depicting mental illness “in the archaic medical model format in which a psychic ‘virus’ arises, sneaks up on the mentally healthy mind with relative ease, causes irreversible damage, and refuses to ever let go.”