Movie News & Reviews

Final frames of Shutter reward patience

At this point, I don't even remember for certain whetherShutter was advertised as "from the people who brought youThe Ring," or if that was just the selling point for everyother piece of J-horror in the last five years.

It's getting a little out of hand. Constantly harping on your onesuccess just draws more attention to the fact everything since thenhas been crummy and weak. The Chicago Cubs aren't advertised as "theteam that brought you the 1908 World Series." The Wachowskis may havemade The Matrix, and truly they are as gods for it, but trustme, when I see their name on Speed Racer, my mental note is agiant frowny-face.

Shutter doesn't break the J-horror slump. Just married, JoshuaJackson and Rachael Taylor move to Japan for Jackson's photographyjob. On their honeymoon, Taylor hits a young woman with her car -- onlyno one can find the body or any evidence she hit anything at all.

Soon, strange blurs and images start showing up in Jackson's photos.Out on the streets of Tokyo, Taylor thinks she's seeing the girl shekilled. Equal amounts of coincidence and research lead Taylor to anexplanation: these weird snapshots are "spirit pictures" caused whenthe dead, driven by strong emotion, come back to haunt the living.

Lord knows how a common camera's sensitive enough to pick up theseimages. As for what the ghost is trying to accomplish by standingaround menacing people all day, that's also something of a mystery.This mystery is eventually unraveled, which puts Shutter aheadof some recent J-horror entries (I'm looking at you, One MissedCall), but it sure takes its sweet time getting there.

Through skillful framing, director Masayuki Ochiai ghosties and otherbad business earn a few creepy moments, but they're diluted by a vastwasteland of cheap scares. You know, a tight shot of Taylor so wecan't see what's behind her, eerie music swells, and then the camerapulls back to reveal the person right behind her is the personshe's married to!! while the audience releases their 64 oz. Cokesall over the theater floor.

Except, well, real horror has to be earned. Shock-cuts don't do thetrick. Even if you're a phantasm from beyond the grave, threats stopbeing threatening after the fourth or fifth time you don't followthrough on them. Seeing dead people in windows and photos is onlyscary for so long before the dread wears off and you start to wonderif the deceased really have nothing better to do than screw up ourvacation photos for all eternity. If I were a ghost, I'd be allskydiving from the moon or haunting Elizabeth Hurley's shower, notbaffling people with my spooky but harmless shenanigans.

And if I were a living screenwriter instead of a wandering spirit, Iwould do my damnedest not to telegraph the big twist a half hour inadvance. Also, if I were somebody who did something really bad thatwould get me in all kinds of trouble if anyone ever found out aboutit, I would not keep the evidence in the closet of my home.(Personally, I prefer to burn it. Bonfires scare the neighbors andget them to keep their damn noisy kids inside.)

But you know what, as tedious and foolish as the path toShutter's ending was, I kinda liked the ending itself. It'snot often a movie so focused on wacky ghost powers pulls back and getsall metaphorical on you; usually, they prefer to just wallow around intheir private pool that's filled with make-no-sense instead of water.Yay Shutter! Way to go out on an up note rather than a sucknote. Now if only all the tension and scares hadn't drained out alongthe way.

Grade: C