Shutter (2008)

Shutter (click for larger image)Reviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, David Denman, James Kyson Lee

Directed by Masayuki Ochiai

There comes a point where enough is enough. It may be painful to face, but we’ve run out of options. The choice is now clear: The Movie Gods demand a human sacrifice!

It’s the only way to get rid of these terrible remakes.

Shutter is the third mind-scathingly bad Asian remake made by a talented foreign director in the last three months (following the rancid trail left by One Missed Call and The Eye). This time, the man at the helm is Masayuki Ochiai who previously gave us solid J-horror films like The Hypnotist and Infection (which will probably have their own remakes this time next year). It’s pretty clear that Hollywood has this down to a stale science: Anyone who makes a great foreign film gets to direct a shitty U.S. remake. While you can’t begrudge these guys for grabbing the bull by the horns, in the end they’re being shaped into glorified whores for the studio. How else could several distinct filmmakers produce works that are indistinguishable from each other?

Shutter (click for larger image)The original Shutter was a decent little Thai ghost flick that arrived a little too late in the Asian horror boom. The remake rehashes the same basic story: Photographer Ben (Joshua Jackson) and his wife Jane (Rachael Taylor) have just relocated to Tokyo a la The Grudge. All is fine until the couple accidentally hit a girl with their car in the middle of nowhere (oops). The body mysteriously vanishes, but soon Ben begins to see strange images of her in all his photographs. “It’s called spirit photography!” says one of their Japanese pals, “In fact, a friend of mine works for a spirit photography magazine”(!). Let this be a lesson to anyone experiencing paranormal phenomena: If you need help, just find a random Asian person. They have all the answers. Cause they’re Asian.

And so through a series of long, predictable events, our wooden couple learns they’re being haunted through the lens by one of those vengeful long-haired ghosts. Wanna place bets that someone has a hidden secret that will be revealed in a “shocking” twist ending?

Everything in Shutter feels like it came off the assembly line. As usual, the U.S. version strips away smart writing and mood in favor of dumbed-down exposition and hollow jump scares, while censored PG-13 kills ruin any shock value (just wait for the Shutter: Unrated Polaroid Edition on DVD).

If you feel like this movie is talking to you like you’re a stupid fourteen-year-old girl, don’t worry … that’s the target audience. Even with the talents of a J-horror master behind the camera, the film lacks any trace of atmosphere with direction that feels phoned-in and anonymous. Of course, with the vapid WB acting skills of Jackson and Taylor leading the cast, even the talents of Martin Scorsese couldn’t elevate Shutter above GQ community theatre.

If you’re looking for a scary take on the subject, stay home and thumb through one of those “spirit photography magazines.” Even at 85 minutes, Shutter has no redeeming features whatsoever and feels longer than the Iraq Occupation. Not only is this turkey the worst Asian horror remake since Pulse, it’s also an early contender for worst film of the year. At least until Prom Night.

Now let’s warm up the bonfire …

1 out of 5

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  • Tristan Sinns

    I’d actually vote that One Missed Call is slightly better than this, or at least more entertaining, because One Missed Call is actually funny. Maybe not intentionally, but still…

  • Rob

    Skipping this just like One Missed Call and The Eye. As much as I like Rachael Taylor, I can tell she’s not worth sitting through this. The scary thing is someone over at IGN gave the movie a 7 out of 10.

  • thedudeabides

    If it is #3 at the Box office, the studio will be scorching their shorts in happiness. Expect more Americanized remakes to follow.

  • What The Cat Dragged In

    After seeing the TV spots a few times, I kept thinking the girl in this movie was Elisha Cuthbert. I was wrong.

    I’ve never seen the original. I’m sure I will eventually. Not sure about this one, though. On another note, I liked “Infection.” It was solid. I’ve never seen “The Hypnotist,” though.

  • Rottenjesus

    According to BOX OFFICE MOJO, the weekend gross estimates indicate that SHUTTER (aka SHITTER) is going to be #3 at the B.O. whilst DOOMSDAY, a far more entertaining and fun as hell flick is going to be out of the top 10.

    It’s almost as bad as GRINDHOUSE when it left the theaters after two weeks. Sheesh.

  • Sirand

    I don’t think there is one thing that makes this stand above The Eye and One Missed Call. They all just feel like one big pile of shit. If I weren’t familiar with the original films, I would probably even get them confused.

  • The Woman In Black

    I went in expecting the absolute worst but honestly didn’t think it was as bad as this review makes it out to be. It’s certainly head and shoulders above both The Eye and One Missed Call remakes. Taylor has a real likability to her, and Jackson didn’t bother me too much, except for one scene in particular when his voice seemed to be coming from someone else. And it was a treat to see Ando in something other than Heroes although he definitely has one of the weakest parts in the film. Instead of a magazine, they should have had him running a spirit photo website — would have been a lot more believable. I blame the script for all of Shutter’s shortcomings. Some of the dialogue is downright painful. Plus, the movie ended, what, THREE times before it was finally done? There are some really creepy effects, particularly the cause of Ben’s neck pains — Ochiai definitely made the most out of what little he had to work with. All in all, I’d give it 2-1/2, which is likely to save it from my Bottom 5 for 2008.

  • Tristan Sinns

    I second that it is, indeed, a bit stinky. Go Netflix the original for a good time. It ain’t bad.

  • Sirand

    Naw-aw! I got a copy of Spirit Photography Monthly sitting on the can right now!

  • Terminal

    You know how I knew this would suck? I saw the trailer.


    Seriously, cut-it-out.

  • Kryten Syxx

    Shutter: Unrated Dark Room Edition
    Shutter: Unrated Double Exposure Edition (Two Discs, get it?! Har!)

    I searched and searched and could not find a magazine dedicated to Spirit Photography. Who would buy a something like that? “Look, we’ve got pictures that have some blurry shit on them. It’s a ghost! Next issue we’ll be interviewing Joshua Jackson in regards to his smash film Shutter!” Not exactly the kind of thing you could possibly churn out monthly. Yearly, sure.

  • frank_dracman

    I vote Ron Bonk for the sacrifice!
    And will be skipping this movie entirely.