Friday, July 11, 2008

SHUTTER (2008)

Before we get to the main attraction, I feel that going over my review for the original Shutter (contained in the Archive), would better illuminate some of the comments I’ll be making about the English-language redux.
So, if you haven’t yet read it, it’s the first entry in the Iguana’s irregular series, “In The Interests of All Things Recyclable.”
And if you’ve already read it…

Benjamin Shaw (Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson, soon to be seen on J.J. Abrams’ latest TV salvo, the much anticipated Fringe) and his brand new wife Jane (Transformers’ Rachael Taylor) are honeymooning in Japan, when an apparent accident kicks off the supernatural goings-on of the film, occurrences which springboard from the spectral trappings of the world of spirit photography.
As early as the initial set-up, the remake takes the original’s basic premise, and executes its own alterations in an attempt to improve upon Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom’s effort.

Fortunately, this outing actually improves upon the problematic characters found in the original. Here, the male lead comes across as a far more sympathetic character when it counts, keeping the audience suitably occupied and interested, and perhaps more crucially, the female lead is actually written as a definable entity, as opposed to the plot appendage she seems to be in the original.
Jackson and Taylor also submit serviceable, if not particularly distinguished performances, thus making the proceedings passably engaging.
However, while the choice of making the Jane character a more pro-active force in the narrative reinforces the whole, that improvement seems to remain a largely theoretical victory.

The problem, I feel, still remains that, as with the original, this Shutter’s script (by Luke Dawson) isn’t the tight, tense little animal it should be. And the scares—again, as with its Thai progenitor—aren’t as potent as I’d hoped they would be.
Having said that though—and despite the fact that some of the original’s scares are far more noteworthy than their equivalents here—this is, I believe, the first time where a case can be made to argue that the English-language remake plays better than the Asian horror original.
Yes, it’s still a sometimes stuttering affair, but the characters and central mystery depicted here are more plausible and make more narrative sense than those in the original.
And not only is it better than director Masayuki Ochiai’s previous efforts, Parasaito Ivu (Parasite Eve) and Kansen (Infection), it’s also better than this year’s other Asian horror reduxes, Eric Vallete‘s One Missed Call and David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s The Eye.

Ultimately, Ochiai’s Shutter is an intermittently effective horror film that, perhaps, would have played better for me if I was unfamiliar with the original.
Still, it’s a fairly enjoyable ride, and there are far worse out there (like Vallete’s One Missed Call).
So, give it a (heh) shot, if you’re so inclined.

Parting shot: Reviews of the original Shutter, the English-language remakes of One Missed Call and The Eye, as well as Transformers and Cursed (in which Jackson also appeared), can be found in the Archive.

(Shutter OS courtesy of; images courtesy of

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