Personally, I hate the horror genre, because I believe it's a waste of my adrenaline to be startled by sudden loud noises and dead girls with long black hair emerging from every nook and cranny. I prefer my psychological horror without the avenging ghosts and kinky gore, thank you. But every once in a while, I retest my prejudices on a movie I think I can stand. And this first flick by two young Thai directors emerged as a scary surprise. If a good film is a scary film, Shutter is certainly one good shudder. It begins with a car accident, late one night on a dark road, Tun and his girlfriend Jane driving home after a noisy dinner with old friends. They hit a girl and, spooked by the shock, leave her for dead. Back home, Tun is a professional photographer, and ghostly lights and shadows start appearing on both his negatives and prints. Tun doesn't believe in the supernatural, but Jane does. The real terror begins with a frantically rattling doorknob, and all the horrors we imagine to be on the other side of the darkroom door. The movie continues much like a thriller, while Tun and Jane's fragile relationship is portrayed with respectful subtlety. The horror doesn't exclude the occasional clichés of the genre, but it also plays with clever shutterbug gags, without losing focus on the mystery, and always within the frame of dignified aesthetics. Aside from a comically relieving katoey scene, there's no true release of tension throughout the film, even up until the very end. Shutter won't make you scream, but it may make you insomniac, paranoid and afraid to watch another praying mantis documentary ever again.
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)