Shutter: Unrated DVD Review

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There’s been a big influx of Japanese horror movies being remade for American audiences over the last few years. Most notably The Grudge and The Ring. And now comes Shutter, another in the line of Japanese remakes. In Shutter, the center of the ghostly activities is in the photos of the couple.

Spirit photography is hardly new, there have always been, and there will always be people claiming to see ghosts in pictures. Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor play newlyweds; the wedding is the opening scene and they quickly run off to Japan for a honeymoon/Joshua starting a new job in Japan. That brings up the first stereotypical horror movie thing. Blonde girl in Japan. When has that ever worked out well for the blonde?

The terror begins for Taylor when she gets lost while driving and while trying to read the map she hits a girl standing in the road and that starts a remarkably long skid into a tree that had enough oomph to knock her out for awhile. When they come to, they check the road for the girl and find no sign of her. Taylor remains distraught over the event while Jackson urges her that everything is ok and continue on the honeymoon to Mount Fiji.

It’s while at a cabin near Fiji where they start to take photos that when developed have strange wisps of light across the photos. They originally pass it off as a fluke of bad lighting. Then when Jackson’s professional photos start to have the same problem Taylor brings up the girl and they go see a median to try and figure out what’s going on. Jackson storms out of this meeting with the median calling him a fraud.

This leads Taylor to look at the pictures again, and they all seem to point to a room in office where Jackson works. Taylor then goes to the office building, which amazingly enough is almost completely empty despite the fact it’s mid-day and should be full of people. Taylor finds her way to a conference room and is confronted by the ghostly girl who slams a door and knocks a picture off the wall that shows Jackson knew the girl previously.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, she calls him on the previous relationship and he explains it and as a couple they decide they need to find the body to put it to rest and it will all be over, another thing that happens in every Japanese movie. And yet, in every movie, it never works. In The Ring, they find the girl, and then she kills again. Here, they find the girl, in a very Hitchcockian way, but that doesn’t end her tormenting. Because that would be too easy, and the movie has another twist in store for you. Muwhahahahahaha.

It’s not an M. Night twist, but it’s still surprising the first time. And then the second time through you pick up on other things and find more pieces.

This isn’t a holy-cow-jump-out-of-your-skin scary movie. It’s more in the vein of a thriller than a horror. There’s a few attempts at jumpy spots, but they’re pretty much standard for these movies. You can pretty much guess what’s going to happen when Taylor climbs on a train.

There’s some nice camera work here. The closing shot of the movie in the swinging door is nicely done and the scene with the strobe light is a great scene and is really the most grippingly terrifying scene because it comes right after you find out Jackson previously knew the girl but you don’t yet know the history of them.

Shutter is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Holy cow are there a bunch of these, if you’re a fan of extras this is your movie. Extras include commentary with the Production Executive Alex Sundell, Screenwriter Luke Dawson and Rachael Taylor who plays Jane. There’s a 8 minute segment looking at the Japanese version of ghosts and the beliefs around them along with a 9 minute extra dealing with the difficulties shooting in Japan with a Japanese director. There’s also a 9 minute interview with the director, Masayuki Ochiai and a 5 and a half minute interview with Screenwriter Luke Dawson. That’s still not all. There’s a 5 minute history of spirit photography also a 4 minute piece on how to make your own spirit photo. Also a 2 minute list of thing you need for Ghost Hunting. 14 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes. And finally, two trailers for Pathology and Joy Ride 2.

Another in the line of Japanese horror remakes and while not terrible Shutter doesn’t really do anything new. It’s an entirely average movie with nothing to really make it stand out.


Twentieth Century-Fox Presents Shutter. Directed by Masayuki Ochiai. Starring Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor and Megumi Okina. Written by Luke Dawson. Running time: 90 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 15th, 2008. Available at


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