Shutter takes Polaroid remnants of the original without the stunning flash. This is a peculiar remake. During the towering heights of Hollywood westernising world-renowned Asian horrors, mostly from Japan and South Korea, Japanese director Ochiai opted to alter the story of Thailand’s arguably most famous eponymous horror with American actors, set in Japan. Western audiences apparently wouldn’t be spooked if the ghost haunting the main characters wasn’t a pasty white Japanese girl with luscious black hair and masses amount of eye liner. It’s a cluster of cultures, and whilst the end result isn’t exactly terrible, it’s far from being tolerably good. Because much like ‘The Grudge’, ‘One Missed Call’ and ‘Pulse’, the underlying sense of pointlessness becomes an overburden for everyone involved.
A photographer and his new bride travel to Tokyo where they accidentally smash into a girl standing in the middle of the darkened misty road (bare foot, might I add!). And so, through the ominous power of spirit photography, they become haunted. Specks of mysterious white vapours and the glistening sunlight against the camera lenses, being interpreted as ghostly entities attempting to communicate with the living. “The dead latch onto the flesh”.
Without changing the essence of the overall story too much, just minor details here and there, Ochiai manages to produce various suspenseful moments through the usage of anonymity. The ethereal cries of a haunting girl, the innocent humming of an eerie song and the most intense tonguing since Toad got struck by lightning back in ‘00. The supernatural elements work best when nothing is showed on screen. The dark room sequence when Megumi entered the room, although initially presumed to be Jane, was executed with enough slow-paced tension to become effective. Dropping a splinter of wood into a solution that causes a tsunami into the eyes? Ineffective. Electrocuting one’s self in a desperate attempt to rid the latched ghost? Well, I don’t need to tell you how stupid that is.
Dawson’s script is less than impressive. Masses amount of exposition and one-dimensional development that forced characters to be nothing more than tourists and amateur photographers. Seriously, Jane is the worst tourist. Shouting in the faces of locals exclaiming “excuse me, where do I go!?”. Is she oblivious to native languages? Like, she failed to even attempt one word in Japanese. That’s not Taylor’s fault, who isn’t the most talented actress in existence, but managed to bring out some surprising emotionality towards the film’s conclusion. Jackson on the other hand? Ehhh. He’s the kind of guy you want to slap for acquiring no personality. Just bland. His character’s best friends are pointless and sadly resorted to expendable deaths that suffered from no build-up.
The central mystery that powers the narrative does captivate, even if Ochiai’s direction made certain twists obvious due to extensive foreshadowing, and that’s the primary element for preventing this remake from venturing into the realms that we do not speak of. I’m looking at you ‘One Missed Call’ and ‘Pulse’!
So yes, Shutter is fine. As a film, it functions by itself with enough flash for the uninitiated. However, for those who have watched the original, you’re bound to find disfigurement within the composition of this photographic remake.