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Shutter - horror DVD review
SHUTTER Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 2 1/2 stars
Actors: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, David Denman, John Hensley
Director: Masayuki Ochiai   Distributor: 20th-Century Fox
DVD release: 15 July 2008   Runtime: 90 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English - 5.1 Dolby Surround, DTS audio), Subtitles (English, Spanish), Feature commentary, "A Cultural Divide," The Director: Masayuki Ochiai, A Conversation With Luke Dawson, Create Your Own Phantom Photo, The Hunt For The Haunt: Tools And Tips For Ghost Hunting, Nine Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending: Mental Hospital, Exclusive first look at the horror film "Mirrors" starring Kiefer Sutherland

Maybe part of the problem is that I've seen too many J-horror films (and horror films in general). A film like Shutter might be much more effective on someone who watches horror films like this only occasionally. Unfortunately, for a horror-film geek like me, there is nothing original or compelling about Shutter. I saw almost every stale "boo" scare and plot twist a mile away.

The plot: seemingly perfect young newlyweds Ben and Jane (Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor) move from New York to Tokyo, where he has landed a lucrative job as a fashion photographer. They decide to take a brief honeymoon by the lake before he starts his job. As she is driving on a straight, deserted road in the middle of the night while hubby sleeps, she is startled by - wouldn't you know it - the now overused Creepy Pale Female Asian Ghost (the most original thing about the Ghost is that she is slightly taller and has shorter hair than the 1000 or so seen in other J-horror movies).

After the police search the area and find no body, the couple decide to go on with their honeymoon (strangely, their car seems to run just fine even though she slammed hard into a tree after the Ghost scared her). Soon, however, both Ben's professional photos and Jane's amateur pics are marred by mysterious, foggy white splotches. Jane quickly learns that these splotches are "spirit photos," which means restless spirits are showing up in their pics. Jane summons her inner Nancy Drew and starts to uncover the truth about the Ghost, a young woman named Megumi (Megumi Okina).

From here, the movie goes through the motions and cranks out nearly ever J-horror and thriller cliché known: creepy, poorly lit hallways; creaky attempts at "Boo" scares (save for one solidly, creepy moment in the middle of the film, there was not one good scare for me); the Ghost looking pale and shuffling around; Ben Knowing More Than We Thought; three rich, young, white Americans who turn out to be (surprise!) bad guys; and the surprise "twist" at the end. Been there, done that.

I think Shutter (based on a Thai original film, not a Japanese one) is proof that the Asian horror remake subgenre (particularly the PG-13 version, which targets the pre-teen market who can't find better films to watch) has run its course. The Ring (2002) was fresh, different and genuinely scary. Since it made money, Hollywood did what it always does and started to run this subgenre into the ground. It's probably asking too much, but it's time to take a break and wait for the Next Big Thing in horror to come around. Shutter is as fresh and original as leftover pizza.

Though sad to say, the extras are perhaps the best things about the DVD. Along with commentary, deleted scenes, an alternate ending (which they wisely did not use) and other features about the film, there are a few other neat side features, such as a history of spirit photography, a ghost hunting guide, and neatest of all, instructions on how to create your own ghost photo on your PC.
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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