Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review: Shutter (2008)

  • Directed by Masayuki Ochiai
  • Written by Luke Dawson
  • Starring Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, David Denman, John Hensley
  • Released in Thailand cinemas on March 20, 2008
  • Rating: 2/5

If you've seen the original Thai Shutter, then take of snapshot of it in your brain and cherish the memory. Better yet, get the DVD of the original Thai film and watch it again. A repeat view of the 2004 film will be far more rewarding than watching the laughably dull, half-reheated Hollywood version, which doesn't achieve anything near the suspense and scares of Banjong Pisanthanakul's and Parkpoom Wongpoom's smash hit.

Through all the Rings and Grudges, by now it should be painfully obvious that Hollywood execs aren't looking to improve on the originals -- just cash in. They think they can cast a pretty blond actress and have some models strut about in lingerie, show some leg and call it good. But it doesn't work. This Shutter has no snap.

The only curiosity is seeing this Hollywood remake of a Thai film through the filter of a J-horror lens, with the director Masayuki Ochiai and the setting transplanted from Bangkok to Tokyo.

A bland Joshua Jackson stars as Ben, a hotshot fashion photographer who has just married an angularly thin blonde, Jane. For their honeymoon, he whisks his new bride away to his old stomping grounds in Japan. They take a few days in the countryside and enjoy a stunning view of Mount Fuji before heading to Tokyo, where Joshua has been booked for a shoot. From almost the outset, you can see that Jackson's character is no good, from the way he is greeted by other women and how he struts about like a rooster with his old Westerner running buddies.

Jane is portrayed by Rachael Taylor, who was last seen as a genius computer hacker in Transformers. Anthony Anderson should have been brought in to play the lead role in Shutter, because he and Taylor had better chemistry in Transformers than she has with Jackson. Nonetheless, she displays plenty of plucky grit and determination as she doggedly pursues the mystery behind the white blurs and streaks that start showing up in all the couple's photos. Even when she's stripped down to some black lace undies for a PG-13 sex scene, she holds her own.

The Thai version, which starred Ananda Everingham as the haunted photographer, was far more chaste. And it was also a lot more subtle.

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(Cross-published at The Nation Weblog)

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