The Asian horror remakes aren’t slowing down, honestly it seems like we get at least two a month at this point. The latest one to hit theaters is “Shutter” which tries to steal it’s marketing off of “White Noise” to no avail. While “Shutter” is a unique animal in many ways it highlights why these American remakes just don’t work out.
Newlyweds Ben (Joshua Jackson) and Jane (Rachael Taylor) move to Tokyo so Ben can continue his job as a photographer. Things seem blissful but Jane keeps thinking about a woman the couple hit with their car their first night in Tokyo, the problem is nobody saw the girl but Jane. In looking at recent photos Jane stumbles onto the world of “spirit photography” where the dead make themselves known in photographs. Eventually both Ben and Jane are suffering from visions and apparitions with no idea what is going on.
I was really surprised at how unique this movie is compared to other Asian remakes. Sadly I can’t discuss too much of what makes “Shutter” different without spoiling the end but suffice it to say the movie goes places you wouldn’t expect. The movie doesn’t just plop two characters in a different environment but you also see the deeper meaning of the couple’s marriage. It just seems that this ghost is finding cracks that are already ingrained in this marriage. The whole concept of spirit photography is one that is very real and interesting and the movie more than plays this up with a lot of real spirit photos that are fun to watch. The ending will be one you either really love or really hate; me I thought it was a very different approach and was fun but I know many people left the theater flat out hating it.
While I really wanted to enjoy the movie overall I left the theater highly disappointed. The movie’s marketing campaign shows “real” spirit photos and goes with the idea that these pictures foretold people’s deaths. In the movie this never happens, the pictures don’t depict a person’s death at all. In fact pictures aren’t even taken when people die so it’s highly strange that the marketing plays up this nonexistent aspect. There is also a high level of speculation and such that go unresolved, mostly involving Ben’s relationship with various female characters. They play up this part and it never pays off. I was also surprised by the high number of characters that just seem to be set dressing. You have James Kyson Lee who is in one scene and really I don’t know why they got him when it could have gone to a far cheaper celebrity. You also have a medium that they spend thirty minutes debating about seeing only to have him there for a minute. The biggest letdown is how long and drawn out this movie is. The big reason American audiences (at least the ones I see movies with) leave the theater angry at these remakes is there is very little true scares and a lot of long talking; “Shutter” is no different. At an hour and 24 minutes it easily feels like two and that’s because of how slow the movie is. There is a lot of long talking sequences that never go anywhere and the film sets up so many strings and doesn’t know which one to pick. You think the movie’s going one way and it just ends to go somewhere else, what makes it harder is you would think this would lead to a big payoff at the end but it doesn’t. There are very little scares and one very disorientating scene involving a flash going off in a dark room (if you have seizures stay away) and it just drags on and on. There also seem to be at least five endings, almost as if the director couldn’t decide which one to go with.
The acting is rather good for what is essentially a dialogue heavy film. Semi-newcomer Rachael Taylor is very good as Jane. Her Australian accent is covered very well and in watching this movie she comes off very much like Naomi Watts in “The Ring” in looks and acting. Her chemistry with Joshua Jackson seems incredibly natural. I’m a huge Joshua Jackson fan and frankly I think I’d watch him read paint samples and find it interesting. The role isn’t Oscar worthy by any stretch but Jackson always delivers a solid performance. He was able to convey the romance, the fear and the tension all at once and it was great. Other than that the rest of the actors are purely used for stock purposes and no one stands out.
As much as I wanted to enjoy what made “Shutter” different its way too long and dull to make any type of splash. Overall I’d give it a 2/5.