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A newlywed couple Ben and Jane move to Japan for a promising job opportunity - a fashion shoot in Tokyo. During their trip on a dark forest road they experience a tragic car accident, leading to the death of a young local girl. Upon regaining consciousness, they find no trace of her body. A bit distraught the couple arrives in Tokyo to begin their new life. Meanwhile Ben begins noticing strange white blurs in many of his fashion shoot photographs. Jane believes that the blurs are actually spirit photography of the dead girl who they hit on the road, and that she may be seeking vengeance. Written by
Another unrelentingly boring ghost-in-the-machine remake
Take it as it is. A derivative, leaden, mind-numbingly simplified remake of a superior original. That's not to say that it's genuinely decent on its own merits if you've not already seen 2004's seminal Thai-horror "Shutter" that reignited that country's interest in producing slow burning, luxuriously made horror films. Interestingly, and perhaps even fittingly, the Hollywood machine that devours and regurgitates the recent slate of J-Horror films has turned its sights on "Shutter", which arguably finds its core roots in Japan's horror conventions in its vengeful, waifish ghost girl tormenting the living by manifesting through various electronic mediums. So what Masayuki Ochiai's adaptation essentially becomes is a carbon copy of copy.
American photographer Ben Shaw (Joshua Jackson) and his blonde schoolteacher bride Jane (Rachael Taylor) go straight from nuptials to a working honeymoon in Japan, natch, because America just isn't as scary to Americans as Asia is. Before heading off to Ben's lucrative assignment in Tokyo, the newly minted couple heads to a remote countryside inn when a brief accident derails Jane's constitution and compels her to seek out answers led by a phantasmal presence in photographs and a newly discovered knowledge of spirit photography.
Unremarkably, Luke Dawson's screenplay omits and appends details to its basic premise. The original uses the stark disassociation of city living to intensify the eeriness of isolation, and the idea that we never really see what we think we know. Dawson's script transplants the couple to a different country, ramping up the cultural alienation and exoticism of another culture. It's not dissimilar to what we've already seen in "The Grudge" remakes.
Even as Ochiai's direction is comparatively surefooted and patient with the camera choosing to hang on to a scene instead of ludicrously harping on jump-cuts and eyeball-rattling shots that bounce off the wall, the film feels unambitiously stale. "Shutter" goes through the motions of dourly checking off look-behind-you set pieces and reflections on windows. The plotting and performances are so apparent; you'd find yourself a couple of steps ahead of the film's central faux-mystery. While the bizarre symbiotic relationship audiences have with particularly mediocre remakes of Asian horror films should still live on after this, what remains most terrifying is how textbook simple and undemanding the film-making has become for films of its ilk.
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