Tartan Video // 2004 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // April 9th, 2007
Have you ever carefully looked at your pictures?
I've had mixed results with horror lately. From low budget gorefests to mainstream perversions of an already perverted genre, nothing has done it for me. I haven't been scared by a movie in a long while. Hell, at this point I'd settle for a movie making me vaguely uneasy.
Shutter came out of the black and did a lot more then make me uneasy. It gave me an outright case of the jibblies.
Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) and Tun (Ananda Everingham) plow into a girl with their car one night and do what anyone would do when confronted with that situation: they cut and run.
Afterward, Jane is plagued with nightmares, Tun's camera is recording spirits, and even Tun's friends seem to be affected. Jane and Tun frantically try and discover what has latched itself onto their lives.
Shutter is a tightly paced horror flick that maintains a creepy and unsettling atmosphere from the moment the car hits the girl. The short runtime helps in this regard. While there are recent horror films that had a tendency to drag out the first act until it stretches into interminable lengths (I'm looking at you Hostel), Shutter quickly jumps into things.
But not at the cost of character development. Rather than a wide variety of cardboard clichés, Shutter focuses on just Jane and Tun and on their attempts to figure out what's going on. We get to see more and more of their personalities, of who they are, as events unfold. In this sense, Shutter shares a lot in common with The Ring; the same tight focus on two people as they attempt to solve a mystery. And Shutter really does feel more like a mystery at times than a horror film. Jane especially takes on the role of detective.
As the story progresses, the characters slowly peel back layers, trying to figure out just what's going on. At no point does this investigation feel forced, nor is it boring. Jane and Tun move logically from one step to the next, pushed along by this thing that has invaded their lives. The tension is always building, not once giving the audience a chance to really relax. One of the most skin crawling scenes involves a late night drive through the middle of nowhere. Tun sees the ghost, always moving out of the corner of his eye. Toward the end of the movie I was hoping it would kill them and just get it over with, if only that I could have a break from the suspense. That can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
And the conclusion makes sense. This is the point that can break movies of this kind, where the ending feels forced and tacked on. But here, the conclusion follows all the rules and fits what we know about the characters and the spiritual world that's presented.
The features are minimal and can be exasperating. Especially the interview with cast and crew. It's less of an interview and really just jumbled up segments of the directors and some of the actors saying things so rapidly that the subtitles vanished before I could finish reading them. The making of featurettes are interesting if only because they show how dangerous it can be to work on a set.
This is a short, tightly paced, and exceptionally plotted little horror flick. Unless you have an aversion to the Asian ghost story sub-genre or Thai audio tracks, then I recommend you pick this up.
Shutter is found guilty of vehicular manslaughter, but innocent of all other charges.
Review content copyright © 2007 Dylan Charles; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Tartan Video
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Interview with the Director and Cast
* Behind the Scenes
* Original Trailer