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Shutter (DVD)

Shutter DVD review (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, James Kyson Lee, Megumi Okina

Directed by Masayuki Ochiai

Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment


Ever wonder what it’s like being a new grunge band in 2008? You’ve just hit the scene that was smoking hot over ten years ago, and though you’re talented, no one really wants to listen to you because there’s too much of a been there/done that stigma attached. I’m guessing that’s pretty much how the makers of J-horror ghost stories are feeling right about now. Even though they’re dressed to the nines, no one else really wants to go out to the old dance. Enter Shutter, an American Japanese-based horror film that no doubt would have been a lot hotter around ten years ago.

Benjamin (Jackson) and Jane (Taylor) are newlyweds who are off to the land of the rising sun to start a new life. Ben’s landed an incredible gig in Japan as a photographer, and things are looking nothing but up for the happy couple. That is, until Jane accidentally runs over a ghostly woman (Okina) on the way to their honeymoon cabin near Mount Fuji. Strangely enough, by the time the cops get to the scene, there’s no body to be recovered. Did Jane imagine this, and was vehicular manslaughter really the start of their troubles? Slowly but surely things begin unraveling for our duo and coming together for our mystery victim. Jane and Ben start seeing this woman everywhere, especially in photos. Good thing that they have a friend who works for a spirit photography magazine(!) to help them sort things out. Can the Mr. and Mrs. help put a soul so evil that she’ll ruin your wedding photos to rest before it’s too late?

Shutter DVD review (click for larger image)The story is hokey. Even worse, the longer Shutter goes on, the more drawn out and derivative it becomes. Hey look! A Japanese ghost with black hair! Oh no! She’s slowly creeping toward me. Oh god! There are insects present for no good reason! This must all be the result of someone being angry at the time of their death! It’s a curse! You get where I am going. You’ve been there yourself countless times already. Still, Shutter does have an effective moment or two, but the trouble is that even at it’s best, the whole affair is just all too familiar and stale to be scary. They sure did try, though, so I’ll give them that.

Now for the big surprise. I expected this to be a bare bones release. Fox, however, had different plans. This DVD is packed to the gills with extras, and we’re not talking about just your standard behind-the-scenes stuff either. Get ready for the DVD package that gets my vote for the absolute hokiest release of the year! If you thought the movie was goofy, wait until you get a load of this bountiful bag of boffo. First there are your usual things like a commentary and several making-of featurettes (each of which clock in at about six to ten minutes each), but after that get ready to put on your waders and sift through the murky waters of the paranormal!

Shutter DVD review (click for larger image)Up first and most interesting for enthusiasts is a featurette called A History of Spirit Photography. In just five minutes we’re walked through over a hundred years of ghost photos starting from the 1800’s. You’ll bear witness to double exposures and stringy ectoplasms-a-plenty while a narrator does his best to sound deathly dramatic and serious. I swear, you’d think Photoshop has been around forever! Speaking of which … if that ain’t enough, next up we get a four-minute how to featurette called Create Your Own Phantom Photo in which an artist shows you how to make your very own spook-filled slide show using the lasso tool and manipulating layers via Photoshop. That’s it! I’m putting a semi-transparent me in a sombrero standing next to a donkey in every single porn photo I can find! Look out Google image search; I’m about to render the Internet flaccid! And finally on to my favorite bit on the DVD … The Hunt for the Haunt: Tools and Tips for Ghost Hunting. This is three minutes of cheesy bliss. Basically what we have here is a text-based crawl that advocates you doing things like breaking into cemeteries and abandoned buildings that’s accompanied by music that sounds as if the illegitimate son of Barry De Vorzon just got his hands on a Casio and was playing from an issue of Scary Music for Dummies, which by the way is just as popular in Japan as those spirit photography magazines! Throw in about fifteen minutes of deleted scenes that offer a minimal amount of extra spookage, and we’re done.

Shutter offers nothing new but manages to get at least a couple of things right. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years and have never been exposed to J-horror, this may fit the bill to an extent, but everyone else will want to steer clear … unless you simply have to watch this for some of the extras, which I recommend for comedy’s sake!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by production executive Alex Sundell, screen writer Luke Dawson, and star Rachael Taylor
  • A Ghost in the Lens featurette
  • A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan featurette
  • The Director: Masayuki Ochiai featurette
  • A Conversation with Luke Dawson featurette
  • A History of Spirit Photography featurette
  • Create Your Own Phantom Photo featurette
  • The Hunt for the Haunt: Tools and Tips for Ghost Hunting featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailers

    Film:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss Shutter in our Dread Central forums!

  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

    • Blockbuster

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!! Awesome!

    • Kryten Syxx

      When I needed help throwing up this past weekend, I did think about watching The Eye and Shutter back to back.

      Um … why does the cover of Shutter look like there are three limp penises coming out of the eye sockets?

      • Uncle Creepy

        I know. As if the original cover art wasn’t busy enough.

    • Kryten Syxx

      Oh no! My wedding photos are being terrorized by a plain looking ghost! Whatever will I do?!

      • Uncle Creepy

        Go to Japan. There are publications that can help.

    • Foywonder

      2 1/2? Are you kidding me? Forget being too kind; that review was a friggin’ Christmas gift delivered in a big nice bow. Shutter is easily the worst horror movie I’ve seen in a theater thus far this year; even Prom Night was better. Shutter is so bad it can’t even do the cheapest of jump scares competently.

      • Uncle Creepy

        I don’t know, man. I found the flick to be average, not unwatchable.

        • Foywonder

          It’s not unwatchable. There’s just nothing worth watching. NOTHING!

      • G.D.

        I left this movie angry, and I only paid half price for it.

        I can’t think of a worse movie I’ve seen this year.

        • PelusaMG

          Really… you want to try sitting through Indy IV!

    • Sirand

      You are WAY too kind.

      *goes back to reading Spirit Photography magazine*