Shutter Movie Review

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The horror genre has imploded. Wrought with remakes, horror is being strangled to death by a lack of creativity on the filmmakers' part and interest on ours. Having run out of worth-while Japanese horror (J-horror) and trampled on American classics, Hollywood has now turned to remaking other Asian horror (A-horror) flicks; the early quarter of the year brought a remake of The Eye (2002) and a redo of Takashi Miike's fantastic One Missed Call (2003). The latest in the downward spiral of remakes is of the forgettable Shutter.

Throughout both J- and A-horror, technology plays a role in connecting us with the dead -- whether it be something as complex as a cell phone or as simple as a camera. Shutter depends on the latter to carry its tale of a Y?rei (the traditional tortured Japanese spirit with a pale complexion and dark hair) haunting a newlywed couple on their honeymoon in Japan. Of course, the spirit is rooted in the past and Jane begins to investigate her new husband Ben's earlier years. But just like every other American remake of Eastern horror, the subtext is lost in translation -- turning the Y?rei into a horror gimmick rather than the thematic embodiment of a disillusioned soul. Whereas the spirits terrified in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse (2001) due to their desperation in death, their American counterpart in films the likes of Shutter do nothing but skulk around, making creepy noises and staring endlessly.

In addition to being derivative, Shutter takes forever to get rolling. Aside from an early car accident, which is the debut appearance of the Y?rei, the first major "scare" doesn't materialize until almost an hour into this 85-minute film. From there, it travels a predictable road as Jane unravels the truth behind Ben's prior Japanese relationship. Surprise, he's a scum bag.

Even more unfortunate is that Shutter has terror potential. Where new technology comes off as corny and cliché in other J- and A-horror remakes, the camera never feels like an exploited technology. In fact, the characters even revert to using a Polaroid camera as a tamper-proof spook spotter, and having a camera that produces a physical image, rather than a digital one, roots the intangible in the tangible. However, the film doesn't come close to commenting on this idea. Instead, it plods through its plot with no regard for pacing, scares, or the audience.

Shutter does, however, succeed in one aspect: It's a shining example of why remakes must stop. They are flaccid, insulting works that do nothing but steal the money out of moviegoers' pockets if they are dumb enough to give it up. While films such as The Signal and Diary of the Dead float about with limited releases and are then filed away with little fanfare on DVD, remakes suck up funding and spit in the face of horror.

That's a pic that needs framing.

Cast & Crew

Director : Masayuki Ochiai

Producer : , , Roy Lee

Starring : , , Megumi Okina, , , Maya Hazen

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Shutter Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2008

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