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?
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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