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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews


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Judy Thorburn

"Shutter" - Focuses In On A Ghostly Revenge

Las Vegas Tribune -
Las Vegas Round The Clock

The Women Film Critics Circle -
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Here we go again - seeing dead people for the umpteenth time. Is there any new scenario screenwriters can come up with regarding that supernatural phenomenon? I’ll be sure to let you know when I see something new and imaginative in that genre. But, Shutter, an American remake of a Thai horror flick, is most definitely not original, nor does it even try to be. This one resembles every other horror film that has come along in the last decade with an Asian girl ghost as its central focus.

New Yorkers, photographer Benjamin Shaw (Joshua Jackson, formerly of Dawson’s Creek) and his new bride Jane (Transformers’ Rachael Taylor, who bears a resemblance to actress Keri Russell) are forced to cut their honeymoon short when Ben is assigned a job to shoot fashion layouts in Japan.

Upon arriving in the foreign country, the couple soon head out to their Tokyo destination. It’s late at night and while they are driving on a dark mountain road, a woman suddenly appears in the middle of the road out of nowhere.

Jane is at the wheel, but unable to swerve out of the way in time, hits the woman. The vehicle spins out of control and eventually smashes into a tree. Not seriously injured, the couple is able to get out of the car but unable to find any signs of the woman Jane believes she hit.

Emotionally shaken by the mysterious and strange incident, Ben and Jane nevertheless, try to put it all behind, move on with their lives and are eager to settle into the spacious warehouse/studio that also serves as their home. Ben, who is fluent in Japanese and familiar with the country where he has worked in the past, reconnects with his friends and colleagues while Jane embarks on a trek into the city to get accustomed to her strange new environment.

Soon Ben and Jane notice that images start showing up on photographs that at first look like white blurs. Ben’s assistant, Seiko (Maya Hazen) recommends that Jane visit her ex-boyfriend, who “conveniently” is the publisher of a magazine that showcases spirit photography, or in other words emotional energy communicated on film. For further help in trying to understand what is going on Jane is advised to see a medium who tells her and her husband the photos are of a spirit tied to the flesh, even in death.

Who is this spirit and why is she haunting the newlyweds? Desperately in search of an answer, Jane eventually discovers disturbing evidence that involves Ben, his colleagues Bruno (David Denman) and Adam (John Hensley, of TV’s Nip/Tuck), and a young, sad faced woman (Megumi Okina) who once worked with them.

As a psychological horror movie I was under whelmed because of its familiarity and the lack of really scary moments. Shutter is produced by the same people behind The Grudge, one of the most terrifying thrillers in decades and I expected to be equally chilled to the bone. Unfortunately, the use of the same cinematic devices to create those chills used in The Grudge, loses the impact when you’ve seen the same thing repeated too many times. By now they are clichés.

I found Shutter’s basic premise interesting and had the potential of being a genuine thriller. The truth is, I was bored by the lack of imaginative execution and found myself continually waiting for something shocking to happen. The use of cheap scare tactics forcing you to jump in your seat does not equate with real horror, especially when it’s all too predictable. I can honestly say the hairs in the back of my neck didn’t stand up once. The creepiest scene takes place in the bedroom and looks more like an outtake from an alien monster movie.

Jackson is weak, make that wooden in his role, but Aussie native Taylor on the other hand, employing an American accent does the best that she can with the material and is effective displaying some range as the desperate wife in search of answers.

I guess there is no need in convincing die hard horror fans who insist on checking out every release in that genre, that they need not shell out hard earned money at the box office for this film. Be forewarned that Shutter is forgettable and disposable. Whatever evil is exposed in Shutter isn’t enough to make audiences scream, or for that matter, shudder.


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