US (dir. Masayuki Ochiai)
Cast: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, James Kyson Lee, John Hensley, David Denman, Maya Hazen
Synopsis: In Tokyo, a young couple on their honeymoon first begin to see ghostly images in their photos.
Review: “Shutter” is one of those extremely formulaic Asian horror movie remakes that follows the same basic premise as virtually every other Asian horror movie remake from the past (“One Missed Call” (assuming), “The Ring”, “The Grudge”, “Pulse” etc.) In fact, here’s a simple mad lib style example of what “Shutter” and so many Asian horror movies and their respective remakes are about:
Young girl/woman/boy is killed when he/she is ______ because of _____. They come back for revenge because _____ and proceed to ______ the person(s) who wronged them by possessing/haunting a cell phone/camera/videotape/website/palm pilot/Mac Book. The only way to survive is to ______, but if you were the person who wronged the young girl/woman/boy, sorry… but you’re fucked! And just when you think everything is okay… it turns out that ________!
When a happy-go-lucky American couple (Joshua Jackson and Rachel Taylor) schedule their honeymoon in Tokyo alongside the husband’s photography gig, problems arise in the form of photographs with evidence of ghostly interference. The wifey thinks it’s all due to the car accident they were involved in upon their arrival in Tokyo, in what had to have been one of the weirdest ghost car accidents ever, the couple actually hits the “The Grudge”-like ghost head on with their car and literally run her over… like aren’t they usually transparent and stuff?
But as it turns out, there are more sinister reasons behind the haunting. Thus begins the descent of “Shutter” into the Asian horror movie remake black hole of repetitiveness. All those tried and true (and by 2008, done to death) Asian horror elements come out: ghost of a stringy haired Asian girl comes back to seek revenge via some inanimate object (related to some form of technology), which is in this case, photographs.
Believe it or not, spirit photography is an interesting form of communicating with the dead as revealed in what has to be one of the best parts of the film. The fact that Joshua Jackson’s character (Ben) happened to have an assistant whose ex-boyfriend is a spirit photographer (and runs his own magazine) was kind of a stretch though, and I would have preferred if his wife, Jane, had done some research before discovering spirit photography as opposed to the whole exchange in the movie that leaves you with that, yeah right, attitude:
“Oh there’s a spirit in this picture!”
“Really? How can you tell?”
“My ex works for a spirit photography magazine!”
Yet despite that unbelievably convenient coincidence and despite being terribly formulaic in nature, “Shutter” manages to offer somewhat of an interesting story. In terms of horror value however, “Shutter” is pretty anemic – but it does at least have some subtle scares to offer the audience, albeit not very many considering it’s PG-13 fare. If the movie has one thing going for it, its an unguessable ending that’s for sure. There are also two (!) twist endings, so predicable is definitely not something you can label this movie as. I probably shouldn’t reveal either twist because as I’ve found from experience, knowing the twist(s) before watching the movie makes the second time viewing experience kinda suck.
“Shutter” is more of a rental type of movie experience, something you probably won’t want to watch again once you know how things end. The minuscule bits of horror in the film are sadly quite few, and I really think there could have been more if the film wasn’t stuck within the boundaries of a PG-13 movie.