JANUARY 26, 2008
Does the Asian world make any horror movies about vampires, werewolves, devil worshipping cults, killer dolls, etc? Other than Bloody Reunion and the occasional monster movie (The Host!), it seems every one of the Asian horror films I see -all of which are recommendations, including this one (by HMAD reader Secret Raconteur), and NOT based primarily on the fact that they seemingly all have American remakes - are about vengeful ghosts using some sort of ordinary device to haunt their victims. Shutter of course fits right in, what with a ghost appearing in some guy’s photographs and driving his pals to suicide. Come on guys, cars breaking down in the vicinity of cannibalistic rednecks must be a global problem.
This one’s got a couple of things going for it. One, it’s short, clocking in at 90 minutes or so (most of them hover near 2 hrs). Also, the story isn’t quite as fragmented as Ju-On or whatever; relatively speaking, it’s actually pretty logical and doesn’t leave you entirely clueless for an hour and then suddenly give you 10 straight minutes of exposition. So that’s a plus.
However, there are still a few issues. One is that the hero is not just flawed, he’s a downright asshole. You can extend the sympathy branch only so far, but this guy goes beyond that point, and simply making him slightly less of an asshole than his friends doesn’t quite cut it. Also, the movie is kicked off when him and his new girlfriend run over a woman in the street (thus beginning his assholity, as he demands they leave without helping her). Now, in typical Asian horror fashion, this means her ghost will be the one stalking him. Fine, but then we discover that she was his ex-girlfriend, and she’s not seeking revenge for being run over, but instead for something even worse that he did a year or so ago. Come on now. Not counting pranks gone wrong, how often do you know the person you accidentally run over and leave for dead? 67 out of 68 times it will be a total stranger.
Still, it delivers all the usual scares (ghost appears in the background, hero spins, she’s gone; an image of the ghost in a photo seemingly comes to life, etc.) so it follows the template closely enough to give the film enough merit (and by merit I mean, the remake is due this year). These movies are a dime a dozen, but if you haven’t seen any of the others this one is no better or worse a place to start.
Odd for a Tartan release, the extras are fairly slim. A few making of segments reveal what a dangerous production this was (every single one of them ends with the directors revealing how someone almost or easily could have died while trying to get the shot), and an interview. No deleteds or commentary. As generic as the movies themselves are, the extras on these are usually pretty fascinating, as our Eastern filmmakers are usually much more honest and direct than their ass-kissing American counterparts.
What say you?