Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shutter (2004)

Shutter is a film from Thailand that was one spine-tingling good time! With the slew of Asian horror films that came out after the success of Ringu (The Ring), Ju-On (The Grudge), The Eye, and so on, it is nice to see one that actually SCARES you!

After a night of drinking with friends, Tun, a photographer, and his girlfriend Jane hit a girl with their car. Panicked, they flee the scene without checking if the girl is alive or dead. After the accident, each suffers nightmares from the guilt, and soon strange things start appearing in Tun’s photographs. A ghostly figure appears in the photographs and soon she is terrorizing both Tun and Jane. Tun’s friends also start mysteriously committing suicide. Is the apparition the girl whom they hit with their car? Or is she someone from the past, seeking revenge for a long-forgotten memory?

Shutter is one of the better Asian horror films out there right now. At first, it appears to be very cliché, with a long-haired ghost creeping around, but it is so intelligently and elegantly presented that you forget about the clichés almost immediately. The story draws you in and holds you rapt as it unveils more and more revelations that draw the story together. As the story progresses, the tension gets ratcheted up. This is one of the few horror films in recent memory that has actually made me yelp out loud more than once.

Directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom do an excellent job with this film. The tension and scares in the film are genuine, and I can’t recall any cheap, fake scares that were used. Each scene is lit beautifully, from the red-lit dark room to the dingy florescent lighting in the disorienting stairwell chase scene to the tense scene where a dark room is only lit by the bright bulb of a camera flash. The scares are very effective; even the ones I saw coming or were cued by the score managed to make me jump!

The acting is right on par as well. Ananda Everingham as Tun does a wonderful job playing a loving boyfriend with a dark past. He is gorgeous as well, and reminds me of Orlando Bloom (but with better acting). Natthaweeranuch Thongmee as Jane also does a competent job, but the Thai language isn’t a very melodious sound and because of this I spent the beginning of the film cringing at the screechiness of her voice. Yet, as I became involved with the story, this minor annoyance just faded into the background.

While the story is not entirely original, it still manages to frighten and entertain. It has enough twists and surprises that are flawlessly woven into the storyline that you won’t suspect a thing until it hits you over the head. The creeptastic ending itself warrants a rental or a purchase of this film. Those last images will haunt you for days! Hauntings can sure be a real pain in the neck!

Fans of Asian horror will no doubt enjoy Shutter, but other horror fans will also enjoy this suspenseful, scary treat!

Shutter is already being remade as an American film starring Joshua Jackson, so catch the real thing before viewing the Americanized (and otherwise bastardized) film (currently filming).

Available from Amazon!

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