Director    Masayuki Ochiai
Starring    Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, David Denman, John Hensley
Release    21 MAR (US) 16 MAY (UK)    Certificate 15
2 stars


21st May 2008

Another week, another crappy J-Horror remake. A Hollywood do-over of the 2004 Thai thriller of the same name, Shutter follows the divine formula cracked by Ringu all those years ago: preppy protagonists with a dark past are haunted by spooky looking Eastern girls via an instrument of technology. Despite countless horror remakes and limitless cheap knock-offs, it's ten years after Sadako crawled out her telly and there's still been nothing to touch her since.

So, we have Joshua Jackson (aka Pacey from Dawson's Creek) playing a photographer living in Japan with his hot sexy wife, played by Transformers' hottie Rachael Taylor (think a white Eva Mendes). How very Lost In Translation. After they run down a girl in a winding country road and apprently leave her for dead, the couple discover all of their photographs capture ghostly white spirits in the background - what look like smudges to you and I are actually examples of "spirit photography" according to the movie (and Derek Acorah). Turns out little miss hit-and-run is back from the beyond to get Pacey's insurance details.

If you've been to the cinema in the last ten years, you could piece together Shutter's narrative from numerous other horrors. The 'haunted photo' thing is a direct rip from Ring; the balcony jump is lifted straight from The Grudge; the lank-haired goth ghost is now so clichéd it's even been parodied in Scary Movie. Shutter is a grab-bag of the best bits of the genre, all smooshed together and moulded into a big wet papier-mache blob that's supposed to resemble a film. Plot holes be damned; she's haunting them via photographs, people!

Acting: if you like. Pacey frown; Pacey smile; Pacey make out with wife. Taylor wears some short shorts, looks afraid and says things like "Why is this happening to us?" Answer: because you aren't talented enough to appear in better films. Roy from The US Office turns up as another douchebag (but in Japan!) and Ando from Heroes delivers an entire reel of exposition in record time. His character appears on the scene in highly fortuitous circumstances, after someone exclaims, "Hey, my boyfriend works for a spirit photography magazine!" Your first lesson in how to skip from scene to scene without bothering to write a proper story. Take notes, kids.

There are moments that might be considered scary: the epilepsy-inducing 'photo flash' technique makes for a fairly taut centrepiece, while the last reel twist, though telegraphed an absolute country mile in advance, does contain a pretty cool reveal. Otherwise, this is real deja vu stuff - avoid unless you've never seen a horror movie in your life or you just have very low standards. Ali

More:  Horror  Pacey  Remake
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