April 27, 2011

Shutter (2008)



"A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved."

I just watched the remake rather than the original version of "Shutter" because I like Joshua Jackson from "Fringe". Sometimes I choose my horror movies this way but more often than not it's simply about which ones I haven't seen for ages or whatever is most easily available. I also like Rachael Taylor in this although that's a bit of an understatement. I could watch her all day in anything whether she's acting or not. Yes, I am that shallow sometimes.

I've never seen the Thai version and I don't think that I even own a copy of it. I may be wrong about that because I tend to double-dip on all the remakes and probably have it stashed away somewhere. I probably wouldn't watch the original back-to-back with the remake though as, although it's supposed to be better, it's still going to be essentially the same story and I would be bored. Both films appear to have a very similar story to "What Lies Beneath" anyway so I'm hardly going to be giving out any prizes here for originality.

I still really enjoyed "Shutter" not only because Joshua's character, Ben, turned out to be such a nasty piece of work and got his just desserts but because I prefer ghost stories to any other subgenre of horror movies. Having finally caved-in and watched "Insidious", I was in the mood for something scary to watch. Unfortunately neither "Insidious" or "Shutter" were particularly scary so I'm still looking.

Not being scary really is a major flaw with all these PG-13 horror movies even if, in this case, the DVD that I watched is actually the "Unrated' version with a few more seconds of gory footage. It doesn't have to be that way. If you look back at some of the classics like "The Haunting" (1963), it really is possible to have a scary film without tons of gore, nudity and expletives every five seconds. I just don't know why nobody can make a scary ghost story anymore. The last one that even came close was "The Others" and that was ten years ago.

"Shutter" still had some quite nasty moments and what happened to Megumi really puts it outside of the PG-13 category whether you get to see anything or not. I don't know if kids would understand the bigger implications of what Ben and his friends did to Megumi so it's weird that the theatrical version had this "kiddie friendly" rating in the first place. I've seen quite a few toned-down from what should have been R-rated movies over the years and most of them just leave me puzzled about who the intended audience are supposed to be.

As a fully grown adult, I really understood the darker side of "Shutter" and, as much as I like Joshua Jackson as an actor, I really despised his character in this. There wasn't all that much to like about him anyway especially as he was really difficult to empathise with but his hot wife made me overthink things until I fleshed out his character a lot more in my own mind. By the end of the film, I almost felt sorry for Ben in the same way that Alison Lohman changed my affections from one minute to the next in "Drag Me to Hell" (2009). Human beings obviously have a lot of grey areas and make mistakes but, when it comes to horror films, you just know that their punishment is going to exceed what would really be justice for their original crime.

There really isn't much more that I can say about "Shutter". It has very good production values, cinematography and all those other throwaway words plus seeing a few bits of Japanese life here and there is always interesting. In saying that, "Shutter" could be set just about anywhere and probably would have worked equally as well.

Anyway, although the story moves along quite briskly and really gets out of control at the end, I had a pleasant enough time watching "Shutter". It may not be the best ghost story ever but it had a few good moments including yet another ridiculous death scene for John Hensley (Matt in "Nip/Tuck"). I recommend it as a Neflix rental but probably not as a keeper unless you find the "Special Feature" on spirit photography interesting.

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