Saturday, September 18, 2004

Review: Shutter

  • Directed by Banjong Pisonthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom
  • Starring Ananda Everingham, Natthaveeranuch Thongmee, Achita Wuthinundsurasith
  • Released across Asia in late 2004.

At the end of night of drinking with friends, a young couple are driving home, late at night. She's driving and he's flirting. He distracts her with his sweet nothings. Her eyes turn back on the road and bang -- there's a woman in front of the car. Too late to stop, they flatten the person, the car goes out of control and smacks into a billboard. The corpse is on the road. Another car is coming. The boyfriend urges his lady to drive, to flee the scene, as is customary in such cases in Thailand.

It proves to be a bad decision. The guy, portrayed by Ananda Everingham (whose father is famous photographer and publisher John Everingham), is a photographer and every picture he takes from then on contains some ghostly glare, or spirit images. Plus, the guy is having bad dreams. And his neck has been in pain since the wreck.

Their conscience weighing heavily, the couple drives back the next day to see the site. They find a workman and ask him about any injuries. "No, just the sign was hit, probably by a drunken driver," the guy tells them.

So no body was found.

But a spirit is lingering. It is turning up in the sink in the photog's home darkroom, scaring the bejeezus out of his girlfriend. The ghost chick is in photos the guy is taking. One minute she is seen in profile. But keep looking. She's looking right back.

Things just get worse for the guy and his girlfriend.

Shutter is good and scary. There's a moment toward the end when I think it had petered out, but it was a short-lived moment. The suspense was pretty intense throughout the whole movie.

A real sense of dread was felt in a university science lab, where there are shelves upon shelves of embalmed little critters in jars. Scary! The girlfriend goes in there looking for answers. What a stupid place to be! Get the @#$@#% out of there!

Shutter is Thai horror in the grand tradition started by the Pang Bros and The Eye. It goes back even further, with ghost stories involving female ghosts a popular staple of Thai culture. Think about Nang Nak, or more recently, Buppha Rahtree. It's also promising to see in the wake of the awful example of The Committment.

The first feature film from a commercial production house, Phenomenon, it's an auspicious start. It's also good for new studio GMM Tai Hub, as Shutter is pulling in audiences in droves and is being shown at multiple screens around the country.

I predict this will be an international hit as well. The opening and closing credits are already bilingual (Thai and English), so the filmmakers used good foresight in marketing the film overseas. I could also see a major Hollywood studio buying the remake rights to this, as they did with such other Asian horror films Ringu and Ju-On (The Grudge).

1 comment:

  1. 4bia is not the movie to see before seeing Shutter. I spent the entire movie knowing why the main character, Tun, had pains in his neck and why the physical checkup of his weight was not just a randomly added element in the movie.

    I agree that the movie was suspenseful throughout and did its job of being scary, though that is all it did for me. I suppose it was somewhat spoiled for me because of movies I have seen before it, though. When I was reading reviews for Dorm to determine whether I wanted to see it or not, reviews actually championed the fact it did not have a long-haired, vengeful, female ghost (instead, it has a short-haired, cool-headed, male ghost!). 4bia and Phobia 2 gleefully mocked this cliche. So when I finally began seeing the ghost, it was...underwhelming.

    As you predicted at the end of the review, Shutter was remade in America (and pitched a Japanese-style horror). It was received...badly.


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