#31DaysOfHorror: Shutter (2004)

79spyq3loca6j7grvrpembpqljfA young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past.

I had a whole lot of reservation about checking out this movie. Primarily because I watched the 2008 American remake, which was complete and utter trash, with no redeeming qualities what-so-ever. So, for years and years I just didn’t bother checking out the original. It’s too bad too, especially considering how frightening the premise of the film is. It’s the kind of thing that, on paper, is right up my alley.

While it’s not a perfect film at all, the original version of Shutter is a genuinely spooky one. It operates on the same level as many of the J-Horror films that I have seen, in that it feels a bit like a haunted house ride taking you through a great ghost story, and occasionally making loud noises and showing you spooky faces. That said, they do manage to be effective, creepy, and really entertaining throughout, when they’re not too long of course.

Shutter is very similar to movies like Ringu and The Grudge for a really specific reason: the design of the ghost, and the way that it interacts with the world, and the people in it.  Now, I have absolutely no idea if there is a reason that the ghosts in so many of these films look so similar to each other, and I would really love to know so if you have a resource, please send it my way. Deeper meaning or no, it has been pretty damn effective, and consistently so; why fix what ain’t broken I guess?

shutter-1

Perhaps one of the primary reasons this design for ghosts works so well comes from the performances that the actresses give. We’ve seen the jerky movements, and horrible sounds, and underneath all of that there is an actor who is making it work. In this case, that honor goes to Achita Sikamana who plays Natre. Her performance as both the ghostly version of herself, as well as her living self in flashbacks, is excellent and makes this one of the more engaging horror films I’ve seen in awhile. Her character really does feel like a character, and you understand her motivations and her pain. It’s a really well written character, and this is only held up further by the actress.

The rest of the cast is pretty great as well, focusing primarily on a small group. Anada Everingham is Tun, and Natthaweeranuch Thongmee as Jane. The trouble I run into with foreign films is one of ignorance, I’m afraid, and sadly I’m not familiar with the work of these actors, or the directors and writers with some exceptions. One director, Banjong Pisanthanakun, did direct a segment in ABC’s of Death and that is, sadly about all that I can tell you. Other than the fact that they did an excellent job with Shutter.

I have also written almost all of this review, and have only just realized that this is not a Japanese horror film, but a Thai horror film. So I would like to extend my assertion that ghost design in many Asian horror films is the same, rather than mis-identifying this as being from a different country entirely. Forgive my ignorance, and know that I really do love this movie.

Shutter is another great Halloween date-night watch. It’s a spooky ghost story that is well paced, well acted, and has enough genuinely frightening moments that it is impossible to imagine not being entertained by it. All I can really say is that you absolutely must make sure that you’re watching the 2004 version, and not the 2008 remake. If you turn it on and everyone is American, throw it in the trash. Otherwise, enjoy.

MY RATING: ****

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