The Thai ghost story SHUTTER (2005) -- a huge hometown hit -- was made by a pair of first time co-writers/-directors. The remake is Japanese director Masayuki Ochiai's first English-language film, and the screenplay is Luke Dawson's first produced project. That's a lot of firsts, and they add up to a derivative but surprisingly effective supernatural tale...read more
The Thai ghost story SHUTTER (2005) -- a huge hometown hit -- was made by a pair of first time co-writers/-directors. The remake is Japanese director Masayuki Ochiai's first English-language film, and the screenplay is Luke Dawson's first produced project. That's a lot of firsts, and they add up to a derivative but surprisingly effective supernatural tale in which there's more to fear from the living than the dead.
Newly married photographer Ben Shaw (Joshua Jackson) and his bride, schoolteacher Jane (Rachael Taylor), go directly from their wedding reception to the airport: Ben has a lucrative gig in Japan, and they plan ot honeymoon for a couple of days at a rustic inn before he starts work in Tokyo. But their first trip as a married couple gets off to a bad start: Lost en route to their charmingly isolated hotel, Jane runs down a woman on a dark, snowy, country road -- she seemed some out of nowhere. Jane slams into a tree and wakes up to find… nothing. Ben thinks she imagined the whole thing, and the police agree: They've search the area thoroughly and find no sign of a woman, living or dead. But Jane is haunted, both by the thought that she may have killed someone and Ben's unseemly eagerness to forget the incident and move on. The tension between them gets worse in Tokyo. Jane loves the city and the chic loft Ben's employers have provided. But she doesn't care for Ben's swaggering pals, boorish adman Bruno (David Denman) and smarmy model's rep Adam (John Hensley), or the way pretty Yoko (Eri Otoguro) abruptly adjusts her body language when Ben introduces his wife, or the fact that Ben's new assistant, Seiko (Maya Hazen), is a flirty fox. Ben's photos start coming out fogged, as do Jane's snapshots -- even the digital ones -- and he becomes increasingly short-tempered. Seiko sees some of the ruined shots and introduces Jane to the concept of spirit photography -- image anomalies believed to carry messages from the dead -- which Ben denounces as mumbo jumbo. As her newly-minted marriage frays, Jane becomes more determined to identify the woman on the road. But there's a shock in store when she does: Her name is -- or was -- Megumi Tanaka (Megumi Okina), and she worked with Ben.
Genre fans will recognize the influences, notably Peter Straub's GHOST STORY (1981), and ten years worth of J-horror cliches. But Ochiai directs with calm assurance -- no eyeball-rattling quick cuts here -- and Dawson's screenplay preserves most of the original script's strengths and fixes a couple of weaknesses, including its awkward handling of two deaths intimately connected to the story's central mystery. Dawson seamlessly integrates them into the story as it unfolds, rather than having them reported long after the fact by a minor character.
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