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NEW Jackson/taylor/denman - Shutter (Blu-ray)
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20th Century Shutter (Unrated) (Blu-ray)A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can never escape the past as aghost continuously haunts them.
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After reading said reviews, I was somewhat discouraged and thought renting might be a better idea. Since I knew I would at least enjoy the location shots in Japan, renting wouldn't be a waste.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this movie. It may well have some minor plot flaws, but what movie doesn't? All in all, I found it intriguing and pretty well-paced. To me it was as much a mystery as a horror flick. Having both those elements is what maintained my interest.
I've never seen the original Thai movie; however, now I intend to buy both versions. Even my husband and daughter liked it!
Maybe this movie isn't one everyone enjoyed, but sometimes it's a good idea to check it out for yourself.
I really didn't have high hopes for this, but it turned out better than I thought. Its biggest weakness was that it took quite a while to get going, quite a while to start distinguishing itself from movies like the "Grudge" series, but once it did, it became highly effective.
It focuses on a newly married American couple (played by Joshua Jackson and Rachel Taylor) who move to Japan, where the husband has landed a job with a high-profile photography agency. It's actually a return for him, having worked there previously, and the first time for Taylor. Shortly after arriving they're in a car accident in which Jane (Taylor) thinks they've struck a woman, who Ben (Jackson) has no recollection of seeing; police and paramedics who arrive on the scene can find no trace that this woman ever existed either. Jane reluctantly accepts the theory that maybe she imagined the woman, but shortly thereafter, images begin to turn up in photographs Ben takes, and Jane becomes convinced the woman is haunting them. This leads into the whole world of spirit photography, a phenomena by where ghosts and glimpses of other worlds are said to be occasionally (and often inadvertently) captured on film.
The movie manages to tap into a different kind of scariness, in that it's one of the few examples of a successful 'melancholy' horror film. It's sad not in an air of big moments of grand tragedy, but in a subtle and quiet way (although the last ten minutes or so definately raises the bar in dramatic, revelatory happenings). This kind of mood is very hard to pull off, very easy to just become dull and depressing instead of moving and interesting. It really only seemed to attain it in its latter portions, although knowing what I do about the ending makes me want to see it over again once it hits DVD, see if things early on can be seen in a different light.
Shutter is well made for the most part, although there are unfortunate glitches. For example, certain scenes are played very well by the cast whereas others, often featuring the same players, perhaps could have benefitted from a do-over. Nothing terrible, and it's not as much of a hinderance as the fact that it took things so long to hit their stride. For the first two thirds of the film it was good but not really anything more, picking up a lot in the last half-hour. If it managed this just a little bit earlier it probably would have gotten a four-star rating, but I think I'll put it at three-and-a-half. It was much better than people are saying, and, contrary to its reputation, isn't just copying all the same moves that something like The Ring (Widescreen Edition) so successfully made. Its atmosphere is very different, but it works. I'd reccommend giving this one a chance.
SHUTTER is another one of those films set in Japan with creepy spirits in the form of young Japanese girls. (see THE GRUDGE, original RING movies, etc.) At least in this case, the ghost is modern and specific. It doesn't change forms or appear to be various other spooky things. (Remember how in THE GRUDGE, there were many different manifestations to confuse things?)
The story follows a newly married couple who move to Japan so the husband (Joshua Jackson) can continue his work as a commercial photographer. They do take a couple of days to have a brief honeymoon, and on the drive to their cabin, the young wife (played by Rachel Taylor, whose only previous work with which I'm familiar was a small part in TRANSFORMERS) crashes into a young woman standing in the middle of the road in her nightgown. From this point on, "unexplainable" things begin to happen...though most of them revolve around strange images of this girl appearing on every photo the couple takes (or has taken). It's a "spirit photograph" we're told. (Apparently these are a fascinating subject in Japan, with entire magazines dedicated to their depiction and discussion. At least, that's what SHUTTER wants us to believe...I have no idea if it is true, but I am skeptical of anything this film offers about Japanese culture.)
The young bride is pretty much left to her own devices because hubby Jackson has to plunge into his grueling work of photographing beautiful models while his lovely young "assistants" paw inappropriately all over him. The couple lives in a loft apartment connected to the studio, but it is a hideously ugly dump (despite the couple's "ooohing" and "aahing" all over it). So Taylor heads out into the city, and to the film's credit, we get a good sense of how foreign a young, tall, blonde American woman with no Japanese skills would feel in this gigantic, bustling city. Taylor is like the vapid, superficial version of Scarlett Johanssen's character in LOST IN TRANSLATION (how's that for a shout-out you didn't expect).
As Taylor digs deeper into the source of her spirit photos and the odd accident she was in...the truth about some American men behaving very badly in Japan begins to sink in, and she finds herself almost on the side of the spirit. This is a twist on what we usually expect in "vengeful spirit" movies, and again, I give the film a little credit for this.
What the film lacks, however, are any real chills. We're SO accustomed to these kinds of mild, PG-13 horror flicks now that it fails to build any tension. There are a couple of very brief "gross-out" killings, but other than that, this film is more about atmosphere rather than jump-out-of-your-seat thrills. That would be okay, except such a film would then require more thoughtful characterizations than SHUTTER delivers. It would also require good performances. Jackson is totally unbelievable either as a professional photographer, or a loving husband or even as a cad. Taylor shows moments of spunk, but mostly is asked to mope around. And special mention goes to John Hensley, who has managed to absolutely bug the crap out of me in NIP/TUCK for 5 years (he plays the irritating, stupid and hard to look at son Matt). He's equally reprehensible here. Normally, I try to be kind about physical appearance...but Mr. Hensley is the least attractive young man working in films/TV today.
So I cannot recommend SHUTTER, even on a modest level. It is forgettable in every respect. Maybe on a slow day at the video store, you can rent it. Otherwise, save your money.