Thursday, July 17, 2008

ShuDDer with fear?

Well I cannot say this is the scariest film I have ever seen, by a long stretch.
But I can say I didn't hate it as much as all the reviews I have read, pretty much everywhere.

Shutter is a 2008 remake of a 2004 Thai horror film. This American version stars Joshua Jackson of Dawson's Creek fame and Australian actress Rachael Taylor (who completely ditches the accent)...
The film opens at their wedding reception where it is quickly noted that they are leaving pretty much immediately for a working honeymoon in Tokyo, where Ben (Jackson) has landed a fairly lucrative photography deal and Jane (Taylor) is basically along for the ride.

Once in Japan, they are driving on a dark road in route to the cabin they are staying in temporarily until they get to Tokyo. With Jane driving, they suddenly hit something in the middle of the road. Jane sees a young woman - Ben sees nothing. They also wreck the car but are not injured. Going back to the road to look for the woman, they are unable to find her - leading Ben (and the police) to think they hit an animal.

Unsettled, Jane has a rough time adjusting to her new life in Tokyo. They hunker down in their new loft apartment and Jane wanders the city streets while Ben works photo shoots with some lovely ladies (flirt flirt).
Jane soon is frightened several times by visions of what she thinks is the young woman they hit on the road. Ben, in turn, has several very expensive photos he has taken be ruined by some unusual streaky lights on the photos. He starts to get nervous....

Jane takes the freak show on the road, asking around and finding an underground magazine that specializes in 'ghost photograpy'. At first she thinks the photos are fakes, but the editor then shows her a room of what he says are the real thing.

Meanwhile, Ben is also affected by strange apparitions and more messed up photos. He finally realizes the 'ghost' they are seeing is someone that he knew. It is, in fact, a woman he had a relationship with in the past but he dumped her due to her turning into a stalker-nut job. Megumi (his fling) is apparently dead. They go to her apartment and find her near-mummified body. They have her cremated and buried. They flee Tokyo and head back to New York.  But as in all typical horror movies, Megumi just isn't finished ... (of course).

Like most other remakes of Japanese (or in this case Thai) horror movies, there is a dark haired creepy ghost-girl. Nothing new to report there. However, I was pretty fascinated by the whole ghost photography thing. I watched some of the extras on the DVD, telling the history of ghost photographs, and also the history of Japanese ghosts.

Yurei, basically meaning 'ghost' in Japanese, are a long-standing part of Japanese culture and history. In the movies 'The Ring' and in particular 'The Grudge', we learned that if someone is killed in a violent or shocking manner, the dead are presumed to turn into Yurei - to avenge their death. They hold a grudge (!) and are not settled until their souls are satisfied and content.
Not an easy task, if you have noticed.

In any event, I actually enjoyed 'Shutter' and thought the acting was pretty fair. I don't really know why it was so universally panned. It did make over $43 million at the box office, so someone went to see it.
I have a hard time finding things wrong with horror movies and I guess this is no different. Or maybe it's just cause I was a Pacey fan from way back!

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