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Shutter (2004)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
Directors:
Banjong Pisanthanakun Banjong Pisanthanakun
Parkpoom Wongpoom Parkpoom Wongpoom
Starring:
Ananda Everingham Ananda Everingham
Natthaweeranuch Thongmee Natthaweeranuch Thongmee
Achita Sikamana Achita Sikamana
Unnop Chanpaibool Unnop Chanpaibool
Titikarn Tongprasearth Titikarn Tongprasearth

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror
A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: February 14, 2008
When it comes to Asian horror, there are a couple of things that you can bet the farm on witnessing. One, the storyline will most likely revolve around a female ghost who has been scorned during her living years, and two, she'll most likely have long black hair that is constantly falling into her face. Oh, and three, these films will be followed almost immediately by the announcement that some American production company has decided to film a remake, and I guess you could even tack on a number four by saying that said remake will miss the entire point of the original film and end up being complete and utter trash. It's too early to tell if number four comes into play with Shutter, but those other three points do apply to this Thai release; however, even though I think we're all getting sick of these Asian ghost stories, this one actually wasn't half bad.

We begin with a young couple - Tun (Ananda Everingham) and Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) - driving home from a small get-together with friends, and as they're driving, they're also chatting with one another. Well, Jane is paying too much attention to the conversation and not enough to the road, because they end up running into a young lady. The two decide to get the hell away from the scene as fast as possible, and of course, this is more than enough invitation for our ghostly friend to start invading their lives. It begins eerily but simply enough: Tun is a photographer by trade, and in each picture that he takes, he notices ghostly spots of light and even a couple of pale white faces. However, this ghost (Achita Sikamana) isn't content to merely present herself in photographs for very long, and before you know it, Tun and Jane are having to face up to what they did on that deserted road.

Readers should take note that I said that this one "wasn't half bad" up above, and that I didn't say that "it's a masterpiece that is destined to become a classic." This is mainly due to the lack of originality, as there were tons of moments sprinkled throughout the running time that come straight out of the Asian horror flicks that served as inspiration for this one. When I say this, I'm not even talking about the idea of a female ghost with long black hair; that's been done to death, but Western audiences need to remember that this look - that of the onryō - is heavily ingrained in the Asian culture, so it's to be expected that they feature heavily into their horror movies. No, my complaint in regards to the originality is focused more on the scenes that have been done before: the "ghost pulls the blanket off the sleeping hero", the "hand on the shoulder" gag, and of course, the whole concept of technology allowing ghosts to make contact with the living. It's all been done before, but there were a couple of shimmers of originality that proved to be the film's saving grace.

Ironically enough, while I can easily point out the moments that had been done before, I can't do the same for the aforementioned moments of true inspiration that were found here as to do so would heavily spoil key moments of the film. What I can say is that this originality revolves around the first of many big twists (yes, there's more than one), and then there's the ending, a scene which... well, I'm obviously not going to spell it out for you, but I have to wonder how they're going to handle this for the American audiences. Some of these scenes definitely aren't going to go over too well with the casual horror fans over here, so I'm predicting some pretty big changes. Regardless, these moments are present in the original, and they serve to put this film a notch or two above the competition.

As a matter of fact, aside from the scenes that I'd seen before, there was really only one thing about the film that bugged me: the "ladyboy" scene. Minor spoilers follow. There's a scene towards the end that revolves around the leading man visiting a public bathroom to take a shit, and when he's done, he notices that there's no toilet paper. Oh, the horror! He asks the person in the next stall to pass some over, and what do we see? A pale, white hand with long, red fingernails... in the men's bathroom. Oh no, it's the ghost again! He storms out of his stall, kicks in the neighboring stall's door, and - you guessed it - it's simply a transvestite who asks him to "let him finish his poo first" with a wry, knowing smile. This scene was just downright stupid, and not only did it fail to pull a laugh out of me, it also brought the tension to a screeching halt. How can you take any of the proceeding scares seriously when there's a chance that it could just be another fucking drag queen or something even worse? This is the sort of thing that works in the Scary Movie universe, not a legit horror film.

Other than that, it's a decent enough film for fans of the genre. It won't win you over if you're sick of these Asian ghost stories, but there's enough originality present to keep you interested if you do enjoy them. Be warned that even if you happen to find yourself in the latter category, you probably won't exactly love it, but it's also far from a horrible night in front of the tube. For that, I think a 6/10 sounds appropriate.
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danimigra #1: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 05:26 PM
i disagree with a 6/10.. no way.. this is a really cool movie... one of the best movies 2006 for sure... the part when the guy see whay is with that pain in the neck is just awesome..!! scared..! 9/10 is fine for me !!
George Snow #2: George Snow - added 10/11/2008, 12:37 PM
I just saw the US version and it was pretty good.
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