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?
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!
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!
2 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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