Shutter (2008) - Unrated

Genre(s): Drama / Horror
Fox || Unrated - 85 minutes - $29.99 || July 15, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-07-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Masayuki Ochiai
Writer(s): Luke Dawson (screenplay)
Cast: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor


Theatrical Release Date: March 21, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • A Ghost in the Lens
  • A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan
  • The Director: Masayuki Ochiai
  • A Conversation with Luke Dawson
  • A History of Spirit Photography
  • Create Your Own Ghost Photo
  • The Hunt for the Haunt
  • Alternate/Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Televisions, closets/attics, creepy Japanese homes and now still picture cameras... nobody is safe from a rage-filled ghost.

Shutter is just the latest of the Westernized remakes based on a foreign film. Most of the time they come from Japan, but now they’re reaching other parts of Asia, this one coming from Thailand. Sadly they still have not learned from their mistakes in such outings as One Missed Call, Dark Water, Pulse and The Grudge. Even though Hollywood tries to nab some top talent fit for the subject matter (ex: Takashi Shimizu directed both Grudge movies and was the creator and director the Japanese counterparts, Ju-on), the translation just isn’t there. And believing American audiences (although I guess I couldn’t disagree) wouldn’t understand some of the subject matter, the screenplays are merely dumbed down to a lowest common denominator audience.

This one is about newlyweds Benjamin (Jackson; TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”) and Jane (Taylor; Transformers). Benjamin is a highly sought after photographer who gets a job in Tokyo, so the two, after getting married, go straight to Japan where the cultural differences strike Jane (Ben had already lived there before and speaks fluent Japanese). On their way to a secluded cabin, where they would have a few days for their honeymoon, Jane crashes into a young woman standing in on a deserted road in the middle of the night. But upon checking out the road, a body is nowhere to be found. With no evidence of a death, Jane tries to shake off the incident as a figment of her imagination (Ben was, of course, sleeping when it happened) but soon things begin to happen...

The first indication that something was wrong came when Jane sees newly developed pictures from their honeymoon getaway where some kind of white mist surrounded them in nearly every shot. Benjamin’s assistant tells her that they may be spirit photos and sends her to a magazine that specializes in the subject of spirit photography. At first Ben doesn’t believe in any of this stuff until he begins experiencing ‘creepy’ stuff. Ben and Jane visit a specialist where one of the most riveting scenes of the movie occurs: there’s nothing like seeing Joshua Jackson translating a long explanation of spirit photography. Riveting stuff.

Now, I must admit that Shutter did manage to exceed my expectations. Sure, they were fairly low but exceeded never-the-less. One of the better parts of the film comes towards the end as we discover the truth. Mind you, the truth itself was pretty flimsy and the final scene was just laughable, but there were a couple of moments that had some tension. Still, the numerous unintentially funny scenes more than makes one forget for any merit the film had.

Joshua Jackson isn’t a lead actor. He’s got some charisma but only when he’s put in a supporting role. Rachael Taylor is cute and probably was the biggest reason that I sat through the entire thing. She has a sort of Naomi Watts vibe about her and some decent acting chops that if she were ever given a respectable script, she might be able to shine more.

Shutter isn’t nearly as bad as other Asian imports. The story is more of the same (how many more ways can a spirit seek revenge?) but this one at least had a slight difference with the others, even if the reason for the haunting was, at best, flimsy. At the end of the day, I probably won’t be watching this one again. It’s better than One Missed Call only because at least this one I could laugh at so many unintentional things. Like the rest, this isn’t going to scare anyone over the age of 13 and the story isn’t rich enough to keep anyone over 25 interested. This is one movie that definitely is destined to be a rental.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The disc actually is pretty stocked with features:

Feature Commentary – The track includes Production Executive Alex Sundell, Screenwriter Luke Dawson and Lead Actress Rachael Taylor. The track pretty much stays on point with some of the more technical aspects and goes some into adapting it for American audiences. Taylor starts off kind of quiet in the beginning but picks up the pace later. It’s a good commentary, but nothing special.

A Ghost in the Lens (8:16) – This features interviews with the cast and crew about the cultural differences between Asian superstitions and Western superstitions. It also explains the Japanese belief about the body and soul.

A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan (9:27) – Self explanatory. There’s some footage of them filming in Tokyo and the reasons they wanted to make it in Japan.

The Director: Masayuki Ochiai (9:30) – Subtitled interview with the director as he explains how he approached making the movie and his likes and dislikes of the Asian horror genre.

A Conversation with Luke Dawson (5:32) – Screenwriter Dawson talks about adapting the screenplay and the various incarnations and translating for American audiences. There is no footage from the film, so Dawson utilizes the entire time to chat about the film. This was actually an interesting interview/conversation and well worth watching even if you didn’t care for the film (but I’m kind of a screenplay junkie so...).

A History of Spirit Photography (4:48) – The featurette opens up with the definition of what “Spirit Photography” is: A reproduction of a spiritual materialization or psychokinetic manifestation by film exposure. Now you know.

The Hunt for the Haunt: Tools and Tips for Ghost Hunting (2:28) – Dumb featurette that just explains, for those looking to find ghosts, how to ghost hunt. Me? I tune in Wednesday nights and watch “Ghost Hunters”, far more entertaining...

Alternate and Deleted Scenes (14:19) – 11 scenes have been included on the DVD, counting an alternate ending that is slightly different, but not significant.

The disc also has a really stupid feature called Create Your Own Phantom Photo (3:59) which are merely just instructions on how to use Photoshop and make a ghost photo.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Per usual, this is a screener copy with a watermark coming on a few times. The picture looked pixilated at times, but I can only assume it will look much better with a final copy. I will amend this review if/when final product is sent.

The disc contains a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track that isn’t great, but gets the job done. It was rumored that there would a DTS track on this unrated release, but I could find none under the language selection. Only other options are Dolby Surround in both French and Spanish.



.::OVERALL::.

Shutter is better than these other J-Horror movies that have crossed the Pacific to America but the problem is, the kind of horror or drama just gets, well, lost in translation. American audiences expect one thing; the material just isn’t there to fulfill it. Personally, I’ve enjoyed some of the J-Horror pictures like One Missed Call and Kairo (Pulse); they’re right up my ally. Disturbing imagery and a sad story... The Westernized versions, however, are just hollow by comparison and it’s a shame Hollywood doesn’t give a straight remake a try.