Shutter (2004)

Reviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Ananda Everingham, Achita Sikamana, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Unnop Chanpaibool

Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom

I really wanted this movie to be bad, so i could have a clever tagline like “Say cheese!”. But it just isn’t.

The movie starts out with an almost formulaic, by-the-numbers j-horror feel (creepy settings, long black hair framing a ghastly white face, running water all over the place), but midway through it catches a second wind of sorts, and kicks it into creative overdrive. The plot revolves around photographer Tun (Everingham) and his girlfriend Jane (Thongmee) who accidentally run down a girl on their drive home and instead of stopping, or calling an ambulance, they just drive off. Evidently they didn’t watch Creepshow 2…”Thanks for the ride lady, thanks for the RIIIIIIIDE!” When the couple later start experiencing all manner of creeptacular happenings, they naturally fear that it’s the angry spirit of the girl they hit (I mean, who wouldn’t?), but soon find out that no one was reported found at either the hospitals or police stations. Jane, however, still continues to have a serious guilt-on, worthy of the most devout Catholic, and all of the photos Tun develops following the accident bear strange distortions… vaguely in the shape of a human face. On top of that, both Tun and Jane are plagued with extremely unsettling dreams. Unable to cope, they start investigating the phenomenon of ghost/spirit photography, which leads to a discovery about Tun’s past, and a possible clue to the identity of their ghostly nemesis, played by Achita Sikamana.

Co-directors Banjong Pisonthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom are quoted as saying the inspiration for the film were from photos they saw of an infamous riot in Bangkok on October 14 1973, where 77 student protestors were killed for demonstrating against the military regime. Apparently several of the photos bore strange, unidentifiable images, which the directors thought would be a great base for a horror film. They were right. They go so far as to show “real” examples of spirit photography in the film, which I will admit… creeped me out, and added an authenticity to the premise, suspended your disbelief just a tad more, and made you want to rush home and examine every photo you own with a magnifying glass.

The film gained critical and commercial success in their homeland, and garnered the notice of Fox-Regency, who are hard at work fashioning a U.S. remake. Hopefully they don’t overlook the necessary karma theme, or the CRUCIAL scene with the pre-op transgendered person taking a poo. And you think I’m joking… .

Final thoughts: this is a good flick, and while it has it’s share of cheap BOO! scares, it also has some genuinely eerie moments. Not to mention a terrifying final image, that will be sure to leave a lasting impression on even the most jaded horror fan.

3 1/2 out of 5

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