There’s something inherently unnatural about cameras and their ability to preserve an instant in time. Everyone’s heard of the old wives tale about how aboriginals refuse to have their pictures taken, as they believe it will fracture their souls. Even more popular, is the notion that they can capture ghostly images on film. There’s no denying that there’s something deliciously spooky about the idea that these devices can see something the naked eye can’t—which is probably why they’re featured in so many different horror movies (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Ring—just to name a few). All things considered, it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about it.
“Shutter,” a remake of a 2004 Thai horror film of the same name, tells the story of a newlywed couple (Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor) who find themselves involved in an accidental hit-and-run during their honeymoon. The body of their ‘victim’ mysteriously disappears, but soon after, they begin to find disturbing, ghostly images popping up in their photos. What follows is your typical horror film remake.
As far as remakes go, “Shutter” never really comes close to the level of “The Ring”—but neither is it quite as bad as “One Missed Call” (also known as ‘87 minutes of my life I’ll never get back’). But no matter what I say here, whether or not you like “Shutter”—let’s be honest here—hinges on how much you hate Hollywood remakes of Asian films, and how big a fan you are of the original Thai film. If you’re a diehard fan of the original or generally hate remakes, it’s probably better to just get your horror fix elsewhere. In the spirit of full disclosure, when I picked up the film at my local rental store, I was completely unaware it was a remake and based on the DVD cover art, had extremely low expectations. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.
“Shutter” has an interesting premise, but the filmmakers telegraph all the plot twists pretty early on, so don’t expect any real surprises. You can predict the ‘final twist’ about halfway through the film, and it’s pretty disappointing to boot. The remake also shifts locale from Bangkok to Tokyo. Now some purists might get up in arms about this, but as an expat currently living in Japan, I’d argue it was a stroke of genius as it’s a fairly accurate representation of high-flying expat life in Tokyo. Joshua Jackson’s terrible Japanese actally adds an odd sense of authenticity to his role as expat-douchebag (unfortunately, Rachael Taylor’s American accent is horrendous and occasionally distracting). Megumi Okina (Ju-on) is also fantastically creepy as the vengeful ghost. All in all, the best scenes come from the original—the last two scenes are actually pretty nifty. Sure, the plot’s a bit hole-y (wouldn’t the people developing all these photos notice the creepy ghost in the background?), but you really could do much, much worse.