Shutter (2008)

MARCH 23, 2008


I’m about at the point where not only can I not tell the Asian movies apart, I also can’t tell their respective remakes apart from one another (or the other originals). In short: they really need to stop fucking making any version in any language of a movie where a ghost haunts someone until they are properly buried. Shutter is the latest in a long line of films that are so formulaic and redundant, it’s a wonder they even bother shooting a new movie at all, rather than just release one of the others under a new title.

Like the original, we have a very unlikable “hero” (he broke up with a girl simply because he didn’t want to deal with her problems, and then had his friends rape her while he photographed them), except here this is revealed as a twist, so as to delay our hating the main character for a bit. The fact that the original dared to introduce this only about halfway through or so was pretty much the only original thing about it, so now we’re left with absolutely nothing. Other than the fact that Pacey manages to utter two “Fucks!” in a PG-13 film, there is zero here that can possibly entice an audience unless they have never seen The Ring, The Grudge, Pulse, Dark Water, One Missed Call, The Eye, and/or any of the original versions and/or any of the sequels (either language). And if you’ve seen them ALL (man, when I list them all and realize that... Christ), it can almost be considered rude of Fox to ask someone to pay for the damn thing. The least the studios could have done would be to offer a buy two get one free deal for this year’s 3 remakes, where if you paid for One Missed Call and The Eye, you get Shutter for free.

And yet Shutter is probably the best of the three. Like Moe, it’s still stupid, just not AS stupid as Larry and Curly over there. Keeping the locale out of generic America (though strangely in Japan and not Thailand, like the original) certainly helps, and there IS one sort of effective scare scene (dark apartment with camera flashes being the only light source). Plus it’s shorter, so that’s nice of them.

Still, you can’t take that as a sign of the movie achieving “maybe it’s not all that bad” levels. The flash/light scene might be good, but the subway scene (the scariest part of the original) is completely botched, even worse than Alba’s Eye remake botched its respective elevator scene. They also use completely ludicrous cinematic shortcuts: at one point the lead girl (Rachael Taylor) figures out that the ‘ghost’ in Pacey’s photos is pointing at a certain level of a building. She goes to the building, and instead of spending, I dunno, 12 whole seconds just counting floors to figure out where she needs to go, she looks at a GIANT DIAGRAM of the building, which conveniently shows each floor number in relation to the building’s logo, allowing her to quickly understand it’s the 17th floor she wants. And this is a shame, because director Masayuki Ochiai was the director of Infection (aka Kansen), a movie that a. I really liked and b. would be much better suited for the remake treatment than Shutter, since it wasn’t about another goddamn ghost haunting another goddamn electronic device.

It’s also wildly inconsistent. Throughout the movie they keep seeing/hearing weird things, and yet over an hour into the film, when Pacey sees the ghost in the bedroom and screams, she wakes up and asks “What’s wrong?”, as if by then she couldn’t have just assumed that he once again saw the ghost that had been plaguing the both of them for a week or so.

Speaking of the ghost, when her “plan” is revealed, I almost laughed out loud. “She was trying to HELP me!” says Taylor, when Pacey tells her about his rape photography past. But it’s already been established that the ghost had been there for a while, so why the fuck did the damn thing wait until they were MARRIED to “help” her? Since the girl was long dead, and Taylor didn’t know anything about Pacey’s relationship with her (they are seen dating for quite a while in the flashbacks), you gotta figure there was at LEAST two years in between her death and the wedding that opens the film. And why wait until they got to Japan (the film begins and ends in New York) to make her presence known, when it’s also established that the ghost doesn’t exactly need a passport to get around? Of course, none of these movies make any damn sense, but at least some of them carry a bit of dread and even the occasional scare to make up for it (or keep you from noticing the plot holes at all). When they are going this by the numbers, these things become all the more apparent, and you would THINK that after half a dozen tries, they’d start to get it right, or at least try something different. Sadly, no.

The good news is that the movie didn’t make all that much money this weekend, and will probably sink like a stone. Maybe after another 6 or 7 failures, the studios will start to consider whether or not remaking every goddamn J-horror film ever made is still a financially sound idea. Here’s hoping!

What say you?


  1. hey BC...i saw this the night it came out and i honestly enjoyed it...shocking...cuz i hate J-horror remakes..i think the fun part and why i enjoyed it was because it was a full house with teenagers who scream and i was watching the movie and just the fact they screamed and jumped made it enjoyable..and im a joshua jackson fan..i mean come on charlie form the mighty ducks rule...but ya I enjoyed it..but maybe i enjoyed it because i didnt expect anything from it....

  2. Well, even the camera flash in a dark apartment scene isn't original. That same thing was done in the first Saw movie.

  3. Just watch the originals with subtitles, it's so much better. I think the feeling of these movies are not translatable to the American culture. If they are set on taking the premise then they should change it to meet the culture that they are in.

  4. Wow, this was the best of the three asian remakes so far? WOW, because I walked out of it pretty sure that I wouldn't see a worse movie in the next three years. Pacey was so bad, the character was crappy, the scares were non-existent and the characters were about 37 steps behind the audience. This movie was just atrocious.

  5. "t" is right on, the original was actually good for being a low-budget affair and a late-comer to the genre. I refuse (ha ha) to see the remake; nearly the entire film is spelled out in the trailer. Sell Sell Sell! Cool blog btw.

  6. The shutter flash scene was actually done in Basket Case 2, believe it or not, as well. That is long pre-dating both Saw and this atrocity.

    I haven't seen Shutter, thankfully, because after seeing two J-Horror remakes I realized they weren't my thing.

  7. A Thai remake disguised as a Japanese remake sad.

  8. I have to admit that as a whole, NOT a great movie.
    SPOILER: But the idea that the ghost was sitting on his shoulders through the whole movie and that's why he always had aches and pains in the shoulders. I really liked that. Kind of goofy, but also kind of cool! lol

  9. I have a problem with your comment about these movies being about "a ghost haunts someone until they are properly buried". While I agree, Asian horror films tend to be very similar, but that is never what happens. What happens is that the characters try to give them a proper burial and it never works. Seriously, watch them again. It never works. It didn't work in "The Ring", "One Missed Call", "Dark Water", or "Shutter". Now, these are the only ones I've seen, so if I am wrong and these are the only ones where a proper burial didn't work, please tell me.
    Other than that, good review. Keep on the good work.


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