In "Shutter," Australian actress Rachael Taylor plays a new bride who keeps seeing images in photographs that don't make sense. It is as if she is looking at frames of this movie.
On one hand, "Shutter" is a rather mundane story about a newlywed couple (Taylor and Joshua Jackson) who notice every photograph they have taken since their wedding day has what at first glance looks like reflections of bright lights. A closer look reveals the images are of a ghostly figure of a young Japanese woman.
That's a little creepy.
But on the other hand - the hand that slaps you across the face for buying a ticket - this remake of an Asian horror film is far too familiar to be that entertaining.
The woman in the pictures eventually starts showing up to haunt the couple and a few of their close friends. She's thin, wearing a long dress with long black hair that obscures her face. Most of the time she slowly turns to face the camera and offer a haunting stare.
This is the same character seen in remakes of Asian horror films from "The Ring" to "The Grudge." Imagine if Asian film directors were to remake a hit series of American horror films, with the protagonist in each wearing a striped sweater and having knives for fingers. Scare me once, shame on me. Try to scare me again with the same character, shame on you.
Director Masayuki Ochiai places this familiar character in typical situations. Even the couple's first encounter with the not-so-friendly ghost on a deserted stretch of highway is a horror-film cliche.
Ochiai fails to use the creative elements he has at hand. "Heroes" star James Kyson Lee plays the editor of a Japanese magazine that specializes in spirit photography. This character could have pushed the movie into more of an "X-Files" tone. Instead, Lee comes and goes faster than a Polaroid print can develop.
The same goes for a medium who gives the pair what appears to be some serious advice. ("Appears," because the movie doesn't translate into English what was said.)
As for the big plot twist, nothing about it makes sense. It is just a way to manipulate the script.
Taylor is one of the movie's few positives. Her feature-film roles have been limited to special effects- heavy efforts like "Shutter" and "Transformers." She shows here that with better material she could easily join young actresses like Kate Bosworth and Rachel McAdams who are dominating today's cinema scene.
Because the film was shot in Tokyo, "Shutter" has a nice look. It has a few gotcha moments. All of this is enough to make you shudder.
But the story line never develops properly and the supporting cast is wasted. That leaves "Shutter" out of focus.
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