A 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.
Cast your minds back to the early 2000s: The invasion of Iraq, Jade Goody winning the hearts of the nation due to her lack of general knowledge, and CD players were still a widely used medium to play music. It was a scary time indeed, but what was Hollywood up to?
After a boom in Asian horror films (with the majority emanating from Japan, also known as J-Horror) in the late 1990s, America had the bright idea to begin remaking many of these small fright films, often turning them into franchises. This seemed to begin with The Ring (2002), which spawned a sequel and the upcoming reboot/sequel Rings. The Grudge (2004) was to follow and Dark Water (2005) wasn’t far behind. Some of these films were passable, others were rather bad, but the point is that these films were making big money and seemed to be pleasing English-speaking audiences with something more exotic. The original Asian films to these remakes have remained out of the public eye in Western society, but have gained a cult following over the years with horror fans. This is how we arrive at Shutter, a Thai horror film that also got the remake treatment in 2008.
Shutter follows a young photographer named Tun (Ananda Everingham), who after a little drinking party with his friends, is driven home by Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee). They begin flirting, and while distracted Jane hits a young woman with her car. In the heat of the moment Tun orders Jane to drive away, leaving the woman for dead. As life gets back to normal Tun begins to see ghostly shadows in his photographs, as well as suffering from severe neck pain and unexplained weight gain. Jane and the rest of Tun’s friends are also subject to strange happenings after this pivotal event, and they begin to suspect they are being haunted by the girl they ran over.
The plot of Shutter is fairly simple stuff: A ghost out for bloody revenge on those that have harmed her. However, what begins as a well-made, effective but admittedly routine chiller, turns into a much more sly and emotionally involving horror picture due to some clever shocks and a few fantastically orchestrated reveals. These ‘reveals’ are not exclusively done through the narrative, but are also shown using meticulous camera-work to great surprise and effect. The Thai actors all do a terrific job too, and there are a few surprising moments of calm and sadness that serve as the emotional background to all of the horrific happenings. These scenes (that mostly happen in flashback) caught me off guard but add a colossal amount of emotional baggage to the characters and the ghost. If I could praise one thing above all it would be the film’s attention to detail, and how everything serves a purpose in the story; every scene, every line of dialogue, every shot – It all feeds into the story while following genre staples and conventions. It should also be noted that the music by Chartchai Pongprapapan is half the reason the film succeeds so well as a horror picture.
In terms of the J-Horror genre in which Shutter resides, I would argue this is one of the best, even exceeding the likes of Ringu (1998). It’s a hard film to talk about due to an abundance of possible spoilers, and I realise in this ‘review’ I’m essentially saying “there’s all this good stuff but I can’t tell you about it.” But what I can say is that it’s highly worth your time, and like England’s recent World Cup performances, it’s absolutely terrifying.
Clever shocks and fantastically orchestrated reveals
Terrific work by all cast
Meticulous attention to detail which positively affects the overall story arc
Music score is a huge part of films success